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DeKalb Schools pays $100k to employee who says she was harassed after taking time off for medical issue

DeKalb County Trending

DeKalb Schools pays $100k to employee who says she was harassed after taking time off for medical issue

DeKalb County School District Administration and Industrial Complex on Mountain Industrial Blvd. in Stone Mountain. Photo by Dean Hesse

This story has been updated. 

DeKalb County, GA — The DeKalb County School Board agreed to pay $100,000 to an employee who says she was harassed by the district after taking time off to deal with a medical issue.

The board approved the settlement with Atiya Hollis at its May 8 meeting. The district (or its insurer) will pay Hollis’ attorney $60,000 in legal fees in addition to the $100,000 paid to Hollis. She will have to pay $5,600 to cover the cost of mediation and will credit five vacation days back to the school district.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution first reported on the lawsuit back in 2021. Decaturish obtained the settlement via a records request filed on May 8.

Hollis alleged the district violated the Family Medical Leave Act by retaliating against her when she took leave to deal with a medical issue. Hollis filed the lawsuit in 2021. She began working for DeKalb County Schools as an elementary teacher in 2004. She received promotions throughout her career. She was hired at Redan Elementary as an academic data coach in 2015.

The principal who hired her and who is alleged to have retaliated against her is no longer leading the school, according to the school’s website.

She was soon promoted to Instructional Support Specialist and she chaired the school’s Student Support Team. In 2017, she began experiencing a headache and dizziness and a school nurse told her that her blood pressure was “stroke level.” She was later diagnosed with acute anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

She was approved for FMLA leave soon after. But when Hollis returned two months later, things changed, her lawsuit alleges. The principal changed her schedule and duties, isolating her during morning and afternoon duty. Her lunch shift was changed to the most disruptive one of the day. The lawsuit alleges the principal told parents to register their children for school in Hollis’ office. Previously, they had registered at the front office.

Hollis says she was transferred to a smaller office between two “disruptive” classrooms at the school. The alleged retaliation made her medical condition worse and she had to take more leave, the lawsuit says.

During her leave, she raised concerns that she was being retaliated against.

Two days later, the principal took steps to replace her, the lawsuit says. She returned to the school and requested an accommodation, but didn’t hear back from the district for “several weeks,” the lawsuit says. Meanwhile, the principal continued to harass her, the lawsuit says. She was ordered to serve as a substitute teacher in a disruptive class. Hollis was eventually demoted to a teaching position and was transferred “against her will” to Stone Mountain Elementary School, the lawsuit says, where the alleged retaliation continued.

“Hollis has suffered significant pecuniary and non-pecuniary damages as a result of Defendant’s unlawful actions,” the lawsuit says.

The district did not admit any wrongdoing as part of the settlement with Hollis.

An earlier version of this story incorrectly spelled the name of the plaintiff in this case. This story has been updated with the correct information. 

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