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Civil rights panels nixes ex-teacher complaint

The Oregon Civil Rights Division has dismissed a complaint filed against the Lake Oswego School District by retired Lake Oswego High School counselor Reid Segal.

In a letter dated Aug. 30, the division said it did not find sufficient evidence to continue its investigation into Segal's claim that the district discriminated against him because of age.

Segal, a 57-year-old Lake Oswego resident, now has the right to file a suit in a circuit court based on the allegations. He must do so within 90 days.

Segal declined to comment on whether he would pursue a civil suit.

In June, Segal's lawyer Kim Marsh filed a tort claim against the district alleging age discrimination and lost wages.

According to the claim, the 2004 to 2007 contract between the district and the Lake Oswego Education Association requires that the district pay retirees a lower hourly rate than younger employees performing the same job.

The contract, which expired at the end of June, also requires the district to terminate retirees without cause after three years.

It further states that salaries should be based on position, years of experience and education rather than retirement status or age related to that status.

All employees receiving wages under the provision are more than 40 years old and, to retire with full benefits, employees must have 30 years of employment under PERS or be more than 58 years old for Tier one and 60 years old for Tier two.

The claim states that the provision discriminates against older employees - and therefore violates Oregon and federal law and the district's anti-discrimination policy.

Segal, who retired in 2004, worked for the district for 16 years and chose to retire with a final pay rate of $30.96 per hour and benefits under the Oregon Public Employees Retirement System.

When Segal willingly returned to the same position two years later, he agreed to a pay rate of $20.32 per hour.

The claim alleges lost wages at $10.64 per hour, which totals damages of $5,532 to date. The claim seeks Segal's lost wages.

The new three-year contract, which took effect July 1, does not include the provision in question.

The district often hires back retirees part-time as an advantage to the individual and the district, which benefits from their experience, said Superintendent Bill Korach.

In the past year, approximately 10 retirees worked throughout the district in various roles.

In 2004, the district and the association agreed on a salary amount that would make it economically feasible for the district to re-hire retirees, he said.

The salary level they chose is equivalent to that of an average teacher hired by the district.

As for Segal's complaint, the district has determined that its contract provisions do not discriminate by age.

The decision made by the Civil Rights Division supports the district's viewpoint, Korach said.

'It's what we thought all along,' Korach said. 'This definitely substantiates our position.'

Korach said Segal has done a good job for the district and that there are no hard feelings.

'We don't see this as a personal thing,' he said.