Bronx, NY - Federal Judge Allows Lawsuit Of Jewish School Aide Claiming Religious Bias
Adlai Stevenson Educational Campus in the Bronx,
A Manhattan federal judge has greenlighted a religious discrimination lawsuit against the city Department of Education by an assistant principal who claims he was smeared because he is Jewish.
Peter Weiss, who was assistant principal of the School for Community Research and Learning, said principal William Mulqueen repeatedly called him a “pork-eating Jew” and complained about Jewish teachers and their “mannerisms.”
Mulqueen also asked Weiss during Rosh Hashanah, the New Year, why he needed to “get right with God” when he had “all of the money in the basement,” according to the civil complaint filed in the Southern District of New York.
When reached by the Daily News, Mulqueen said, “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
After a reporter informed him that Judge Laura Swain had given the go-ahead to Weiss’s hostile work environment and religious discrimination claims, Mulqueen said he had no comment and hung up.
After Weiss decided to become more Orthodox during the 2007-2008 school year and observe the Sabbath, Mulqueen said that the assistant principal was “finished” and did not qualify for overtime pay because he had “more money than God,” the lawsuit states.
He issued Weiss an “unsatisfactory” rating at the end of the year, effectively ending his time at the Castle Hill school, which is currently phasing out due to poor performance.
Weiss’s lawyer, Harry Weinberg, said he hopes his client and the DOE can reach a reasonable settlement at a hearing later this month. Weiss is now working as a substitute teacher, making about $40,000 less a year. He is seeking back pay since 2008, in addition to emotional damages.
“We are hopeful that now that the court has focused the issues, common sense will prevail and the parties can reach an amicable resolution of Peter’s claims,” Weinberg said.
Weinberg added that, in his experience, many discrimination lawsuits are thrown out on procedural grounds.
A city law department spokeswoman said she was pleased the court dismissed Weiss’s retaliation and due process claims, “which substantially limits the issues going forward.”
Mulqueen left the DOE in 2010. He is a longtime adjunct professor at Lehman College, where he instructs a seminar for teachers on “classroom management principles and techniques,” according to the website description.