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Former school district employee files suit alleging disability discrimination

A former Hillsboro School District employee has filed a lawsuit against the district and one of its administrators in U.S. District Court in Portland, claiming unlawful employment practices and wrongful discharge after he was fired from his job.

The suit filed Jan. 20 by Brendan Schroder names the school district and district administrator Saideh Haghighi, alleging the district discriminated against him and failed to make accommodations for his disability.

The lawsuit asks for $600,000 in economic damages and for pain, suffering and mental distress.

Before he was hired at the district, Schroder states that he broke his right hip twice while undergoing law-enforcement training. He was hired at the district in September 2014 as a member of the district’s “Behavior Cadre” to help students with behavioral challenges.

About a month after beginning his job, the lawsuit states, Schroder began “to feel increased pain in his right hip.” He was told by his doctor to begin using crutches. After coming to work on crutches, Schroder claims he was told “because he was on crutches, he needed to collect his belongings and immediately leave the district property. Mr. Schroder was told by HR [human resources] that he would be placed on unpaid medical leave.”

The lawsuit claims that after having surgery in November 2014, Schroder’s January 2015 request for a light duty desk position was denied by Haghighi, the HR director. In February 2015, Schroder claims he was told by Haghighi “that he would have the option to either quit his job or take an additional three months of unpaid leave.” In March 2015, the suit says, Schroder was told by Haghighi he must resign in order to be considered for another position, “or the district would terminate his employment, and he would not be considered for another position.”

The suit claims discrimination under the Americans With Disabilities Act and that the district fired him and “deprived him of additional employment opportunities in anticipation of his need to use leave protected by FMLA [Family and Medical Leave Act].”

This is the second civil lawsuit filed against the Hillsboro School District in U.S. District Court in as many months. A suit filed last month claims the district violated a student’s rights under Title IX, violated the student’s First Amendment rights and discriminated based on the student’s sexuality.

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