A former custodian at Capital High School has settled his racial discrimination lawsuit after a circuit judge dismissed some of his claims.
The Kanawha County Board of Education will pay Willis McLemore $15,000, board attorney Jim Withrow said about the case filed in 2008.
McLemore alleged that Frank Thompson, his supervisor at the school, used racial slurs behind his back and created work environment so hostile that he was forced to quit. Defense attorneys said McLemore's work wasn't satisfactory and he quit to avoid the restrictions of an improvement period.
In his complaint, McLemore said Thompson used words such as "nigger" and "boy" and said, "people of your kind are lazy and should be sent back to Africa."
Defense Attorney Jan Fox made a motion on behalf of the school board for summary judgment, asking Judge Paul Zakaib to decide the case on the facts rather than go to a jury.
Zakaib dismissed McLemore's claims of racial discrimination and retaliatory discharge, but agreed that there was a hostile work environment and a constructive discharge.
Those remaining charges were the basis for the monetary settlement.
McLemore's attorney, Matthew Criswell, would not comment on the case. In a court hearing in September, he told Zakaib that McLemore's performance evaluations were racially motivated and the slurs were attempts to get him to leave the school.
Withrow said he felt the settlement was the best option for the school board.
"Obviously, it's just cheaper to settle than to go to trial with potential for an adverse verdict," Withrow said. "Still, based on my review and experience, I don't think his claims had much merit."Willis was hired in January 2007 and resigned his position at Capital High in April 2008. He filed a grievance with the school board, alleging bullying, intimidation and harassment. That grievance was denied.