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Dec 20, 2011 6:59 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Former East Quogue Gym Teacher Loses Age Discrimination Lawsuit

Dec 21, 2011 12:42 PM

East Quogue School Superintendent Les Black announced during Monday night’s School Board meeting that a federal court has thrown out a multimillion-dollar age and sex discrimination lawsuit filed by former employee Linda DiCapua two years ago.

Ms. DiCapua of East Quogue, who had worked at the elementary school for 12 years as a part-time gym teacher, alleged in her federal lawsuit that the school district—and fellow defendants Mr. Black and East Quogue 
Elementary School Principal Robert Long—overlooked her for a full-time teaching position in 2009 because of her age and 
sex. Instead, the position was given to a recent college graduate—identified by Ms. DiCapua as Kevin Greene although 
her lawsuit only identifies the individual as “Mr. Greene.” Her lawsuit also states that 
Mr. Greene “had not even 
passed the state test for teachers when interviewed and hired to the position,” and later adds that he could not accept the job “due to a lack of qualifications.” Another teacher was eventually hired.

Ms. DiCapua, now 53, was not rehired to her part-time position with the East Quogue School District in 2010, a year after she filed her lawsuit.

The charge of sexual discrimination was dismissed by Judge Sandra Feurerstein in November, right before the case went to trial. The charge of age discrimination was brought before a jury of eight at the Eastern District of New York Federal Courthouse in Central Islip on November 28, 29 and 30.

According to a copy of the decision, the jury unanimously agreed that age was not a critical factor in the decision by East Quogue School District not to hire Ms. DiCapua to the full-time position. The decision does not offer an explanation.

“We considered this to be a frivolous lawsuit, with no basis for any kind of discrimination,” Mr. Black said during a phone interview on Tuesday morning. “Obviously, we are pleased that the jury agreed with us.”

According to an amended complaint filed in September 2010 with the U.S. District Court Eastern District of New York, Ms. DiCapua was seeking restoration to her position, as well as compensatory damages for pain and suffering, back pay for lost income and benefits, and compensation for mental anguish and negligence. She was seeking an estimated $3 million in damages, according to the lawsuit.

When asked to share a copy of the ruling, Mr. Black had someone from his office fax a reporter a copy but not before blacking out the name of the plaintiff. He said that was done in order not to “vilify” her even more.

When reached on Tuesday afternoon, Ms. DiCapua and her husband, Ed, repeated the allegations brought forth in the lawsuit, and went as far as to say that Mr. Greene was hand-selected by Mr. Black. They said Mr. Greene is the son of a former administrator whom Mr. Black used to work with at the Brentwood School District. Mr. Black retired as superintendent of the Brentwood School District in 2006, two years before he was hired as the part-time superintendent for East Quogue.

Mr. Black could not be reached on Tuesday afternoon to respond to the allegation. Those answering the phone at his office said he would not be in again until Thursday.

After failing to get the full-time position, Ms. DiCapua continued working at the elementary school three days a week. Last summer, a second full-time physical education position opened up at the school and, again, she was not promoted. Ms. DiCapua was not hired back to her part-time position for the 2010-11 school year.

“The kids loved her. The parents loved her,” Mr. DiCapua said. “She spent 13 years there and they kicked her out like a piece of garbage.”

He added that they have no plans to appeal the ruling, noting that it would cost between $15,000 and $20,000 just to request copies of the federal court transcripts.

Ms. DiCapua, who has lived in East Quogue with her husband since 1999, said she recently lost another part-time teaching job when the Stella Maris Regional School in Sag Harbor closed for good earlier this year. She is now officiating basketball.

“It will probably be better for me to just let it go and move on,” Ms. DiCapua said on Tuesday. “I’m disappointed I am no longer there. I worked very hard. I believe they have two good teachers there, though they are a lot younger than me.”

Mr. DiCapua, meanwhile, said those who testified during the trial painted an unfair and biased picture of his wife, adding that she never received a negative review until she filed suit against the district.

“They made her out to be a demon,” Mr. DiCapua said of the school employees who were asked to testify. “The lying was breathtaking and spectacular. They made her out to be the worst teacher on the face of the Earth.”

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Poor baby didn't get the job so she files a lawsuit, guess what all you people in the public school systems in the private sector jobs are not garanteed. You did not get the job so go away and look for another one. She should have to reimburse the district for the costs incurred
By maxwell (169), speonk on Dec 21, 11 12:50 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By maxwell (169), speonk on Dec 21, 11 12:51 PM
Anyone who questions the practices in the school are let go or forced to resign. Do not believe what they tell you at the school.
By crusader (391), East Quogue on Dec 22, 11 2:36 PM
It is true that Mr. Black did try to get a job for an unqualied friend. That said Ms DiCapua didn't deserve the full time position either. The right person eventually filled the position.
By EastEnd68 (888), Westhampton on Dec 22, 11 3:26 PM