Office for Civil Rights Closes Complaint Against School District

The U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”) issued its determination closing a complaint filed against a school district involving allegations related to student discipline. The complainant alleged that the District inappropriately issued a five-day out-of-school suspension and referred the student for a superintendent’s hearing because of the student’s race. The complainant claimed that the student’s suspension was “excessive” when compared to discipline given to white students who engaged in more serious misconduct. Marnie Smith represented the school district, presenting evidence of the school district’s legitimate and non-discriminatory reason for issuing the suspension, as well as evidence to demonstrate that the proffered reason was not a pretext for discrimination. OCR determined that there was insufficient evidence to substantiate the allegation that the District discriminated against the student on the basis of his...

Webster Szanyi Obtains Jury Verdict of $2,500,000 in Fire Loss Case.

Thomas Lane and Andrew Miller, partners at the firm, obtained a jury verdict of $2,500,000 after a two-week trial.  Webster Szanyi represented the North Tonawanda Elks Lodge 860 after its historic fraternal lodge was destroyed by a fire.  The Lodge was custom built for the Elks in 1921.  Webster Szanyi previously prevailed on a summary judgment motion, where the Court found the building was a specialty property and the measure of damages was reproduction/replacement cost new, less depreciation.   The jury awarded $3,200,000 for the building, depreciated by 35%, $150,000 for the contents of the building, and $302,000 for the post-fire demolition costs. The Buffalo News reported on the verdict, and the article can be found...

Division of Human Rights Issues No Probable Cause Finding Dismissing Claim of Age Discrimination

The New York State Division of Human Rights (“SDHR”) issued a “no probable cause” finding on a claim that a County employee was terminated based on her age.   Heather Dechert represented the County against allegations that the employee was denied proper training; issued counseling memos and negative performance evaluations; and, ultimately terminated, due to her age.  Based on its investigation, the SDHR determined that there was not sufficient evidence to conclude that the Complainant was subject to any adverse action because of her age.  The evidence instead supported the County’s legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons for terminating the...