A former social studies teacher at the Paterson Science and Technology Charter School claims he was fired for taking leave from his teaching post to fulfill his duties in the National Guard in a lawsuit filed in federal court.
Erik Verniere, a member of the New Jersey Army National Guard, 1st Squadron, 102nd Cavalry Regiment, alleges the school’s administrators Ali Riza Gurcanli, Joseph Miceli, and Necmi Coskun allegedly discriminated and retaliated against him for his membership in the military, according to his lawsuit filed on Monday.
Verniere claims the administrators “exhibited hostility” towards him for his membership in the National Guard and his need for military leave. In August 2015, he claims Gurcanli told him “it was not conducive to his career at Paterson to miss certain training due to military obligations.”
Gurcanli, the lead person at the charter, did not return a call for comment for this report.
Verniere claims Coskun told him the administration at the school was raising questions about his military leave. He sent a letter objecting to alleged discrimination against for his military status on May 5th, 2016. Later on the same day, the school in “blatant retaliation” terminated his employment. He was told his employment was ending in June 2016, according to his complaint.
Verniere claims Miceli cited one of the reasons for the termination was his commitment to the school. On May 13th, 2016, Gurcanli confirmed he recommended Verniere’s employment not be renewed for the next school year, according to court filings.
In claiming the school fired him for his military status, Verniere states he received an effective rating for 2014-15 school year and a higher effective rating for 2015-16. He also claims he was discriminated against when he sought unspecified coaching opportunities and was told only females would be hired for such positions, reads the complaint.
Verniere, a Ridgefield Park resident, was hired by the school in 2013. He is seeking damages for pain and emotional distress as well as back pay, reinstatement, and attorney fees.