Philadelphia Employment Law News

Whistleblowing: Camden School District Admin Fired for Not Lying?

Monise Princilus is the former director of human resources for the Camden City Public Schools, and is a little upset about that "former" part, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. According to Ms. Princilus, she was placed on leave, and then did not have her contract renewed, because she refused to lie on the superintendent's behalf.

Superintendent Bessie LeFra Young is the head honcho of the Camden district. According to the Inquirer, she's come under fire lately for allegedly missing an entire school year's worth of days over the past year and a half. Young claims the absences were due to a chronic illness.

The grudge match stems from Young's absenteeism. According to Princilus, Young ordered her to lie about the number of absences and falsify documents. After she refused, she was placed on leave and her contract was not renewed.

Even with the chronic illness, the complaints about Young may have merit. Legal provisions, such as FMLA and ADA required leave are provided for a reason.

Absenteeism, especially frequent and sporadic absenteeism, hurts the employing agency by not allowing them to have someone fill the position and ensure that the duties and responsibilities of the job are covered.

FMLA and ADA leave allows the individual suffering from a chronic illness to take all of their paid leave, which Young did, along with a significant amount of unpaid leave. Their job is protected during their absence.

One would be right to question if there is any good reason why, with those leave provisions presumably applicable to Young, would she allegedly order Princilus to falsify attendance records?

As for Princilus, if her allegations prove to be well-founded, she can recover any lost wages and possibly seek reinstatement, if she wants to work for her old employer. She has found a new position, and it is unknown whether it pays more or less than her old job.

Whistleblower laws are in place because public policy is in favor of employees reporting their employer's illegal conduct. Princilus claims that she refused to take part in illegal activity, and if she was fired in anticipation of her reporting the discrepancies, a whistleblower claim is a strong possibility.

The New Jersey statute allows for reinstatement, back pay, full benefits and seniority rights, reasonable attorney's fees, and the word that makes every attorney's heart sing: punitive damages.

The court can also asses a fine of up to $1000 for the violation.

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