Former Staffer Sues Unit 5, Claiming Harassment And Retaliation | WGLT

Former Staffer Sues Unit 5, Claiming Harassment And Retaliation

Dec 15, 2020

A former Unit 5 staffer claims in a federal lawsuit the district's leadership failed to protect her from an administrator's sexual harassment and then retaliated against her when she raised concerns.

LaNell Greenberg says she was an administrative assistant to Unit 5’s superintendent and clerk for the school board. In her lawsuit, filed Monday, Greenberg claims she was subject to multiple incidents of sexual harassment from Unit 5’s former HR chief, James Harden, who resigned in 2019 after investigations into his workplace conduct. WGLT first reported those allegations.

Greenberg says she told other Unit 5 leaders about the “unwanted, intentional, harassing and discriminatory” gestures and actions. Then-Superintendent Mark Daniel then “imposed different workplace rules on Greenberg unlike those imposed on other employees of Unit 5 who had not made complaints of sexual harassment and hostile work environment,” her lawsuit claims. She says Unit 5 failed to address her concerns, and she was “forced to request a transfer” to another job in the district.

Greenberg says she was “forced” to resign from Unit 5 herself in October 2018. Harden resigned about six months later.

Harden has denied wrongdoing.

"Any of those heinous allegations, I would not do. I'm a respector and advocate of everything for people that need a voice," Harden told WGLT on Tuesday. "There's lots of people that need a voice, and I will always be that voice for people. I would never, ever do anything to disrespect a woman, or anyone else for any reason. Their race, ethnicity, preference, gender, none of that. That's not who I am."

Harden said he filed his own complaints with Unit 5's school board. He said he experienced racial insensitivity and "professional sabotage" while on the job.

When Unit 5 offered him a "healthy severence," he decided to take it.

"When the board chose not to look into (my complaints), I thought it was a good time for me to go," Harden said.

Greenberg's lawsuit claims Unit 5 violated her civil rights by allowing Harden and “other supervisory personnel of Unit 5 to remain in the workplace despite their commission of unlawful discrimination of a sexual nature,” according to the lawsuit.

Greenberg is seeking reinstatement of her position with back pay and benefits restored.

Greenberg also ran unsuccessfully for Unit 5 school board in April 2019.

Daniel, the superintendent, has since left the district.

When asked for comment, a Unit 5 spokesperson said they have not yet received a complaint in the case.

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