Last week U.S. Magistrate Judge Lisa Pupo Lenihan ruled that a state law allowing for faster firings of management-level school employees was unconstitutional. Though this decision could have future implications, it came as a direct result of a lawsuit filed by Dwight Mosley, Ph.D., in November 2007.
Mosley, a graduate of Westinghouse High School and the University of Dayton where he earned his bachelor’s, master’s and Ph.D., was fired from his position as the director of recruiting and staffing with the Pittsburgh Public School District Aug. 23, 2007. He filed a lawsuit against the district on the grounds he did not receive due process when he was terminated.
“I’m always a person that views that people should be treated fairly and my main issue was I wasn’t treated fairly,” said Mosley. “The judge ruled that my firing was unconstitutional and violated federal law. The district court magistrate indicated that they had to reinstate me, effective the date of the termination.”
Now Mosley and his attorney, Avrum Levicoff, must wait to see if the district plans to appeal the court’s decision.
“I just surmise, I don’t think they’re going to let this go,” Levicoff said. “I think they’re going to appeal this at some juncture.”
“The way I read it they had to give me a hearing. The board would have to make a decision whether there was just cause for my termination. Obviously from my perspective if I wasn’t fired and I was reinstated there would be some back wages,” said Mosley. In the event of a hearing to determine whether the firing was justified, Mosley feels the ruling will be in his favor.
“I’ve never had an unsatisfactory evaluation so there’s just a whole bunch of accusations that have to be challenged,” Mosley said. “I’ve been fighting cancer for the last six years and there’s a bunch of things going on with that in terms of insensitivity on behalf of the district.”
Regardless of what occurs in the future, Mosley said the judge’s decision to overturn the statute will help to ensure others aren’t terminated unfairly.
“So for nothing more than paving the way for others so that they’re not fired, I think that’s a major victory. I just hope that it helps others,” Mosley said. “Being a human resources professional, that’s been my whole goal, making sure people are treated with dignity and respect.”