Mattituck schools found liable of age discrimination

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON FILE PHOTO | Former Mattituck teacher Anthony Claudio, right, enters the federal courthouse in Central Islip last Wednesday morning.

A jury has found the Mattituck-Cutchogue School District discriminated against Anthony Claudio due to his age but not his gender when it fired the special education teacher in 2009. 

The eight-member jury awarded Mr. Claudio $70,000 in back pay Monday. He was not awarded liquidated damages or damages for emotional distress, as he sought in his complaint. Liquidated damages are awarded when a defendant, in this case Mattituck superintendent James McKenna, knows his conduct violates federal law.

Mr. Claudio, 50, alleged in his complaint, which was filed in 2009, that he was terminated from a special education department where 28 of 30 employees were female and most were younger than 30.

Mr. McKenna offered a brief prepared statement after the verdict was handed down by the jury Monday.

“The Mattituck-Cutchogue School District made the right decision to terminate Mr. Claudio in the interest of special education students of the district,” he said. “The jury has rendered a decision that said the district did not willfully wrong Mr. Claudio. The board will consult with our attorney about next steps.”

Mr. Claudio said after the verdict was read that it “speaks for itself.” He declined further comment.

The trial began Oct. 9 before Judge Joseph Bianco at the federal courthouse in Central Islip. Monday marked the second day of jury deliberations.

In addition to the $70,000 in back pay Mr. Claudio was awarded $1 for nominal damages. The judge said that was the maximum Mr. Claudio could have asked for.

Post-trial motions are expected to take place Dec. 7.

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