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Discrimination claimed at College of Canyons

COC instructor alleges she was harassed due to pregnancy

Posted: July 1, 2008 1:33 a.m.
Updated: September 1, 2008 5:01 a.m.
A College of the Canyons instructor claims she was harassed and intimidated after she complained of pregnancy discrimination at the community college.

A tort claim filed by Gina LaMonica, a former dean, alleges she has endured a continuing campaign of harassment, retaliation and intimidation arising from her complaints of discrimination, her requests for accommodation under the Family Leave Act, and her request to be reassigned to a faculty position.

The college is prohibited by law from discussing personnel issues, including those involving lawsuits, according to COC spokeswoman Sue Bozman.

"Sometimes we'd like to be able to tell the college's side of an issue, but we can't," she said.
The claim was presented to the Santa Clarita Community College District during the governing board's June 25 meeting.

"We presented a tort claim form for a series of incidents that happened last winter, and a request for one year unpaid leave so we can resolve a whole slew of disputes that need to be resolved between Dr. LaMonica and the district," said Martha Torgow, LaMonica's attorney. "We don't want her to work in a hostile environment while we try to resolve things."

According to the claim, the harassment included the insertion of nails into the back right tire of LaMonica's car on three occasions while the car was parked in the faculty and administrator parking lot at COC. The claim states that "the last incident occurred on a rainy day, endangering Dr. LaMonica's life for the purpose of removing her one way or another from her employment as a faculty member of College of the Canyons."

Torgow says there is no question that someone was attempting to harm LaMonica.

"There's no question - with nails in her tires on a rainy day - someone was certainly willing to put her life at risk to send her a message," Torgow said.

According to Torgow, the harassment started when LaMonica returned to work after taking a leave of absence to give birth. She had been a dean of occupational programs, but opted to return to the classroom and work part time, carrying 60 percent of a full-time load.

"The harassment started with the way classes were assigned, in that she would have to show up on campus more than a 60-percent employee should have to," Torgow said. "Her requests for a limited schedule to accommodate her 60-percent schedule have been repeatedly denied."

According to Torgow, the next act of harassment came with LaMonica's tenure review process, which she described as extremely vicious, despite good reviews from her students. Then LaMonica started finding nails in her tires.

"Certain administrators and others appear to have come together to make her life hell - I presume to force her out," Torgow said. "(LaMonica) loves teaching, she loves her students, but it has become horrific for her to work there."

LaMonica is seeking undisclosed amounts to cover medical expenses resulting from extreme stress and terror, and damages for violations of her rights to a safe school environment.

"She wants a resolution that will allow her to stay at work at the district peacefully, or would allow her to leave with her reputation intact," Torgow said.


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