A math teacher at Simonsen 9th Grade Center has alleged in a new lawsuit against Jefferson City Public Schools that he's been repeatedly discriminated against because of his race, national origin, color and age, as well as by retaliation and a hostile work environment.
Naveed Malik, of Columbia, filed his suit against JCPS in Cole County Circuit Court on Wednesday, alleging that he's been singled out and passed over in his career by younger teachers with less experience.
Malik has worked as a math teacher for JCPS since 2001, according to his original charge of discrimination filed in April 2018 with the Missouri Commission on Human Rights.
Malik alleges he's "been treated differently in the terms and conditions of (his) employment" — excluded from math department group activities, professional development meetings and events that white, American-born colleagues were included at; "demoted to teaching courses that are generally taught by newer, less-tenured teachers;" passed over for the chance to become head teacher of the math department despite having more experience than the person who got the position; and "subjected to a hostile work environment."
"I have been continually called into the office for ridiculous, pretextual reasons. I have had to continually defend myself to administrators," Malik wrote in his amended charge of discrimination filed in July 2018.
He received his right-to-sue notice from the state Human Rights Commission in October 2018.
Malik — who was born in Pakistan, "is of Asian ethnicity with Middle Eastern appearance looks," and is age 52 — alleges he has taken his concerns to administrators, including then-JCPS Superintendent Brian Mitchell and current Superintendent Larry Linthacum, but that his concerns have not been addressed and the problems have continued.
Under the first count in Malik's petition — "Hostile work environment and retaliation based on race, national origin and color; and discrimination based on race, national origin and color" — Malik asks for a jury to award him "all actual damages for all harms and losses suffered in the form of lost compensation and benefits, for all non-economic damages such as career disruption, pain and suffering, mental anguish, anxiety and emotional distress."
Malik's petition also says he is entitled to punitive damages in an amount to be determined by a jury.
The second count against the district in the petition — "Hostile work environment and retaliation based on age and discrimination based on age" — asks for the same damages, which also would include attorneys' fees, costs and expenses.
Malik's lawsuit is the fourth active suit against JCPS. His attorney is Dennis Egan, the Kansas City-based lawyer who also is representing Tammy Ferry in her lawsuit against the district and who represented Gretchen Guitard — with whom JCPS settled a lawsuit last year by paying $400,000 to Guitard and her attorneys.
Online court records did not yet list legal representation for JCPS in Malik's case Wednesday. A summons was issued by the court to JCPS that day and designated to be served to Linthacum. No hearings were scheduled as of Wednesday afternoon.
Ferry, an instructional technology coordinator for the district, filed suit in March 2017 and alleges discrimination based on retaliation and gender. Ferry's suit is scheduled for trial in Cole County at the end of February.
Robert Jones, a Jefferson City High School teacher, filed suit in the U.S. District Court for Western Missouri in March 2018, and alleges JCPS discriminated against him by paying him a lower wage than his female counterpart teachers. That case currently is set for trial in May in Jefferson City.
The family of a female high school student filed suit in the same federal court later in March 2018 against JCPS, Jefferson City High School Principal Robert James and any other involved staff. The family alleges that negligence they claimed legally constituted sexual harassment allowed a man to excuse the girl from school for sex with him on several occasions, which he later pleaded guilty to statutory rape and sodomy for. That case is scheduled for trial in September in Jefferson City.