Fmr Williston Asst. Superintendent Files Discrimination Claim With North Dakota Dept. Of Labor
In a recent legal filing with the North Dakota Department of Labor and Human Rights, former Assistant Superintendent Victoria Arneson has made serious allegations against her former employer, Williston Basin School District #7.
In documents obtained by KEYZ, Arneson claims she was subjected to a hostile working environment, harassment based on her gender, and retaliation for participating in a protected activity.
Arneson, who began her tenure with the school district in August 2011 as a teacher and later served as Assistant Superintendent, alleges that the hostile working environment began in May 2023. According to her complaint, she disciplined a school principal in the presence of other staff members, but the situation escalated when the principal reacted by swearing and yelling at her. Despite the presence of Assistant Principal Kevin Klassen and Human Resources representative Judy Billehus, no action was taken to address the inappropriate behavior.
Arneson further claims that when she approached Dr. Richard Faidley, the Superintendent, about holding principals accountable for their actions, she was allegedly told to "get thicker skin." This encounter marked the beginning of a series of adverse actions against Arneson.
On August 2, 2023, Arneson received a written warning from Dr. Faidley, citing violations of various respondent policies, including Staff Code of Conduct, Responsible Use, and Confidentiality. The next day, she was written up for inquiring about the ownership of a document she could no longer access.
The situation took a more drastic turn on August 3, 2023, when Arneson's working conditions were significantly altered. She claims her job duties were stripped, and she lost email and internet access. Dr. Faidley allegedly instructed all district employees not to talk to Arneson, and she was prohibited from communicating with her colleagues. Additionally, she asserts that Dr. Faidley prohibited her from sending any emails without his permission.
Arneson states that she was told to "just resign" on August 3, 2023. Subsequently, she was reassigned to work in the warehouse and given the title of Warehouse Worker. When she inquired about wearing more casual clothing in the warehouse, Human Resources denied her request, insisting on business casual attire.
Furthermore, Arneson claims she was treated unfairly based on her gender and participation in a protected activity. Allegedly, when she referred to a departed employee as a "disgruntled employee," she was told by HR that she could not do so. However, she contends that Assistant Principal Kevin Klassen made a similar comment in a meeting where HR was present but faced no consequences.
Arneson's complaint includes an assertion that her demotion and subsequent resignation were in retaliation for a complaint she made to Dr. Faidley on July 26, 2023. In the complaint, she expressed dissatisfaction with her treatment and requested personal time off to decide whether she wanted to remain employed with the respondent.
The former Assistant Superintendent claims violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the North Dakota Human Rights Act. The charges have been filed with the North Dakota Department of Labor and Human Rights (Charge No: 32F-2024-00013 NDE-38721) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Williston Basin School District #7 has not provided a specific reason for the adverse actions taken against Arneson, according to the legal filing.
The case is pending investigation, and Arneson has stated her intention to fully cooperate with the agencies involved in processing her charges.
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