In 2013, a new superintendent was hired in the Hickman Mills C-1 School District and shortly thereafter the District terminated the contracts of all of the secondary principals and assistant principals without good cause, including Siro Smith Dickson client, Dr. Bill Scully.
Although all the principals and assistant principals were told they would have a fair opportunity to compete for their jobs, the evidence showed that the re-hire process was tainted by illegal motives. Prior to the mass layoffs, the average age of Assistant Principals in Hickman Mills was nearly 60 years old, including Dr. Scully who was 66 years of age at the time. After the re-hire process, the average age of Assistant Principals was around 40 years old.
Dr. Scully was a decorated, highly qualified and successful school administrator, having previously been named the Missouri Middle School Principal of the Year. Dr. Scully sued the Hickman Mills C-1 School District in Jackson County Circuit Court for age discrimination.
The Hickman Mills school board had given the newly hired superintendent a blank slate to hire the candidates he preferred. “The end result was a significantly younger, less qualified group was hired in the place of more qualified, older candidates,” said Eric Smith of Siro Smith Dickson.
In November 2016, a Jackson County jury deliberated for less than two hours before finding in Dr. Scully’s favor, awarding him nearly $300,000 in compensatory damages and punitive damages in the amount of $450,000. The Court subsequently awarded Dr. Scully front pay as well as his attorney’s fees, costs and interest.
Overall Judgement: $1,300,000
REMEMBER: It is illegal for any employer to discriminate or retaliate against anyone who belongs to a “protected class.” Employers generally cannot discriminate because of age, disability, gender, military status, national origin, race, sexual orientation, or religion. Likewise, employers may not retaliate against employees who raise concerns about illegal treatment at work.