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2 ex-Rocky Boy workers sue district, superintendent

 

May 13, 2014



Two Rocky Boy school district employees have filed suit against School Superintendent Voyd St. Pierre and the Rocky Boy school district, contending he created a hostile work environment for them.

Legal papers filed in District Court April 21 show that former school district employees Wilson Mitchell and Charlotte Big Knife have separately filed actions against St. Pierre.

They are asking the court to award damages and want the district to pay their legal fees.

Wilson Mitchell was a maintenance technician for the school district in September 2012. In the legal papers, Mitchell said his work with the district was rated “above average,” but events involving co-workers worsened his work environment.

According to the paperwork, Mitchell accompanied Rocky Boy High School Principal Lewis Reese in March 2013 to a co-worker’s residence to discuss a pending grievance.

Around April 4, 2013, Mitchell testified in court regarding a restraining order the co-worker sought against Reese. The restraining order was dismissed.

“(The co-worker) subsequently went to Defendant St. Pierre and resigned; she claimed that Mitchell was in part to blame for her resignation,” the legal papers say.

After these events, St. Pierre took an active role in Mitchell’s work and supposedly created a work environment so intolerable, Mitchell quit after being suspended.

“The investigator concluded that St. Pierre retaliated against Mitchell for his participation in a court case involving St. Pierre’s relative … subjecting him to such harassing and onerous work conditions that Mitchell was ultimately forced to resign,” the papers allege.

Big Knife was hired as a payroll clerk for the school district in November 2012. In January 2013, she was suspended by her supervisor for an “alleged absence from work.”

Big Knife is said to have believed her suspension was wrongful and the Rocky Boy School Board of Trustees decided she was not properly trained in the school’s policy about taking leave.

Big Knife asked for back pay for the time she was suspended and St. Pierre did not act timely on her request, according to the allegations.

St. Pierre then allegedly learned Big Knife was going to file a complaint to the school board and allegedly threatened to fire her, the legal papers allege.

Big Knife was absent from work again in March 2013, for which she was suspended and then terminated in April 2013.

Big Knife and her lawyers are stating she was put in distress by St. Pierre and that she was unfairly treated.

Mitchell’s lawyer’s five counts against St. Pierre are wrongful discharge, negligent hiring, training and supervision, actual malice, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

Mitchell is seeking awards for damages and legal costs.

Big Knife’s lawyer’s four counts against St. Pierre are negligent hiring, training and supervision, actual malice, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

Big Knife is also seeking awards for damages and legal fees.

St. Pierre was not available for comment Monday.

 

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