Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Virginia Beach teacher says school system passed him up for job based on age

VIRGINIA BEACH — A Corporate Landing Elementary School teacher is suing the Virginia Beach School Board and the city’s education department because he believes 18 job applicants, including himself, were denied technology positions because they were too old.

Currently listed as a second-grade teacher, Joseph Andreana filed a federal complaint against Virginia Beach City Public Schools and the school board on Nov. 7 in the Eastern District Court of Virginia.

Andreana has worked for Virginia Beach City Public Schools for more than 28 years. He was a computer resource specialist, or CRS, for 16 years until he was “forced” to take a job as a teacher in the summer of 2015, the complaint states.

Andreana reported always getting “excellent” performance evaluations, and twice — including in 2012 — he was honored as the school’s teacher of the year, according to the complaint.

Andreana says his troubles began in the spring of 2015 when the Virginia Beach School administration reorganized the CRS department.

Administration told CRS employees that staff would be cut from 104 positions to 84. In order to keep their jobs, employees were told to reapply for jobs as information technology specialists, or ITS, the complaint states.

The ITS jobs were advertised within the school and publicly. Andreana was one of 99 CRS employees who reapplied, while another 100 people who weren’t already employed in that capacity were also considered for jobs, according to the complaint.

Before they were told to reapply, the average age of a CRS employee was 49.4 years old. Of the 99 who reapplied, the average age was 48.1 years old, the complaint states.

Of the 99 CRS employees who reapplied, 74 were hired. The average age of those who were hired was 45.6 years old. There were 22 CRS staffers who weren’t hired for the positions, and their average age was 56.1 years old — more than 10 years older than the average age of those who were hired, according to the complaint.

Of those 22 older CRS employees who weren’t hired, three retired and four challenged the school system’s decision and were ultimately hired for the positions.

According to the complaint, at least 23 former CRS employees who were hired were under the age of 40, with the youngest being 28 years old. Their experience working in the tech field varied from four to 14 years. In some cases, the employees only worked for the CRS department for a year before they were hired, the complaint states.

Andreana is representing 18 candidates — including himself — in federal court who believe they were passed over for ITS positions because of their age. All of the job candidates Andreana represents were over the age of 40 when they applied and believe that they were more experienced and qualified for the ITS positions than the younger candidates who were ultimately hired, according to the complaint.

Because of the school system’s decision not to hire Andreana for an ITS position, he took a lower-paying job as a classroom teacher. Other who were not hired for the ITS department also took lower paying jobs or retired.

Andreana is not requesting that he be awarded a specific amount of money if the lawsuit results in his favor; however, he is asking for a jury to decide if he should be paid lost wages and attorney’s fees.

Virginia Beach City Public Schools spokeswoman Lauren Nolasco said that the school system is aware of the lawsuit but declined to comment on the pending litigation.

Andreana and his lawyer, James Richard Theuer, did not return requests for comment from Southside Daily before this story’s publication.

Send news tips to adrienne.m@wydaily.com.

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