State settles age, race discrimination suit

State settles age, race discrimination suit
Published: Nov. 27, 2013 at 11:28 PM HST|Updated: Nov. 27, 2013 at 11:41 PM HST
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HONOKAA, BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) - A 71-year-old Big Island man who sued the Department of Education for race and age discrimination will get $30,000 under a settlement with the state.

James Johnson of Puna alleged he went to more than 60 teaching job interviews but was bypassed each time because he was "old," "white," and "male."

He said he hopes his lawsuit grabs people's attention about a systemic problem at the DOE.

"If it made the DOE pay attention to the fact that discrimination goes on, then it was a success," he said.

Attorney Eric Seitz says the deal vindicates his client, who also was hired in August to teach fourth graders at Honokaa Elementary School.

"Mr. Johnson first of all now has a teaching job, which was the most important aspect of all this," Seitz said.

But Seitz says the problem of age and race discrimination persists and that lawsuits don't seems to deter that behavior.

"There are going to continue to be cases like this and teacher who I think are very gifted are not going to be hired," he said.

As for his new job, Johnson says he's found the ideal teaching post.

"I'm very fortunate I have the world's best fourth-grade class."

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