A former Orange County, Fla., schoolteacher says her choice in mate, music and friends is the reason she was fired from her job, and she has filed a lawsuit seeking justice.
According to WESH, Audrey Dudek, a former math teacher at Edgewater High School, claims she was fired in 2013 after school officials learned that her then-boyfriend, now husband, is black.
"This isn't about sending a message," Suzanne Tzuanos, an Orlando, Fla., attorney whose firm is handling Dudek's case, told the news station. "This is about getting justice for a teacher who was terminated unlawfully."
According to the lawsuit, viewed by WESH, school officials were "shocked and offended" after learning that Dudek's husband, Stacey Cobb, is black, and that she associated with black faculty members. The lawsuit also alleges that some faculty didn't like Dudek because she played "black music" in her classroom and some students had dubbed her classroom "Club Audrey."
"The assistant principal complained to her to her face, talking to, and I quote, those people, referring to black members of the faculty and staff," Tzuanos told WESH.
The lawsuit also claims that during her tenure, white faculty allegedly performed a racially charged skit wearing "blackface, Afro wigs, gold teeth and baggy clothing."
In addition, Dudek claims that her performance evaluations suffered.
The school district told the news station that the teacher's contract was not renewed because of budget cuts. Dudek's lawyer, Tzuanos, countered, telling WESH, "The budget didn't go down in that period of time. Ms. Dudek is a math teacher. There's a critical need for math teachers at Orange County Public Schools, so the district's explanation does not hold water."
The Florida Commission on Human Rights investigated Dudek's claims and found there is reason to believe that Dudek was "treated differently based on her gender and race association," according to the station.
The school district "denies all allegations of discrimination by Ms. Dudek," noting it "will not comment any further due to pending litigation," WESH reports.
According to the news station, Dudek is seeking "unspecified damages for pain, suffering and loss of dignity."
Read more at WESH.