CHIPLEY - The Washington County School District and Panhandle Area Educational Consortium (PAEC) are among four defendants named in a lawsuit filed last month by a former Washington County teacher and coach.
Tony Davis is seeking $15,000 for each claim listed in the suit, which also names Jackson County and Calhoun County school districts as defendants.
In a complaint filed on Davis' behalf by Tallahassee attorney Marie Mattox, Davis asserts that he was retaliated against by the Washington and Calhoun County school boards for previous complaints he made against the districts, and that he was subsequently discriminated against by PAEC and the Jackson County School District because of those same complaints.
The suit states Davis, who was employed with the Washington County School District from 2000 until 2005, filed a discrimination lawsuit against Washington County following his separation as an employee and began a new position with the Calhoun County School District in 2008.
According to court records, Davis left his position with Calhoun County in 2015, nearly five months after he filed charges of discrimination against that district with the Florida Commission on Human Relations, a suit that was later settled.
"Defendants Calhoun County School Board and Washington County School Board have repeatedly retaliated against [Davis] with bad references, preventing him from obtaining employment for which he is more qualified than the selected candidates," reads the complaint.
"Over the course of approximately one year, [Davis has applied] for approximately 70 or more jobs with the defendants for which he is qualified, including, but not limited to positions as custodian, early childhood assistant, head custodian, and paraprofessional. Because of the lawsuits, [Davis] has been denied employment in each and every instance."
The suit also claims Davis has been denied for employment elsewhere due to "negative references and slanderous statements" by the two districts, specifically that PAEC, which was involved in the settlement of both suits, had individuals with knowledge of the prior lawsuits who influenced the hiring decisions.
The suit goes on to say Davis is a member of a protected class because he was retaliated against after reporting unlawful employment practices and that his damages are "continuing and permanent."
"As a direct and proximate result of the foregoing acts and omissions, [Davis] has suffered mental anguish, emotional distress, expense, loss of benefits, embarrassment, humiliation, damage to reputation, illness, lost wages, loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life, and other tangible and intangible damages," it read.
Neither the Washington County School Board or PAEC had yet filed an answering document at press time.