The city school board has agreed to pay $70,000 to resolve a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by a woman who spent less than two years teaching in Paterson.
The teacher, Zenia Picart-Wheeler, a Jersey City resident, said in her lawsuit that she suffered from unspecified disabilities rising from “orthopedic injuries” from a 1992 motor vehicle crash.
Picart-Wheeler claimed that after being hired to teach at Paterson’s HARP Academy in 2015 she was subjected to harassment and menacing by the school’s principal. She said in her lawsuit that stress from the job caused her to go on unpaid medical leave for three weeks in 2017 and that when she returned to work she was assigned supervision of a physical education class, which she said further dented her medical condition.
The district terminated Picart-Wheeler after the end of the 2016-17 year, according to court records. She filed her suit in September 2017.
The Paterson Board of Education approved the settlement two weeks ago. Under the deal, $24,721 goes to Picart-Wheeler’s lawyers and the rest to her, according to court papers.
The settlement includes confidentiality clauses under which the school district agreed to disclose only the dates of Picart-Wheeler’s employment in Paterson and her job title if other prospective employers contact the district about her.