HAMMOND | A former Lake Central School Corp. bus driver is suing the district, claiming it violated her civil rights and wrongfully terminated her, federal court records state.
Marylou Hultgren, of Dyer, argues the district subjected her to a hostile work environment based on religious discrimination, treated her differently based on her gender, retaliated against her and wrongfully terminated her, according to her complaint. Hultgren worked for the district for 30 years.
Hultgren claims school officials eliminated her position in retaliation for complaining about disparate treatment under Lake Central's bereavement policy, court records state.
A supervisor initially refused to approve Hultgren's request for a paid day off for bereavement after the death of her husband's aunt because she didn't show "proof of agenda," according to a complaint filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Hammond.
In the past, all that had been required was a copy of the relative's obituary, she said. Hultgren claims her husband's request for paid bereavement leave from Lake Central schools was approved at the same time without a "proof of agenda" requirement.
Her paid bereavement request later was approved after she complained to the School Board and district officials.
A month and a half later, Hultgren received a letter telling her that her position as a school bus driver was eliminated, she said. All five bus drivers whose jobs were eliminated were female, she said. Men with less seniority did not lose their jobs, according to the complaint.
Hultgren said the school district's actions also violated the First and Fourteenth amendments.
Lake Central School Superintendent Larry Veracco could not be reached Tuesday afternoon for comment.