A white Florida teacher claims she was discriminated against for having a black boyfriend and associating with black staff members.
A lawsuit filed by former Edgewater High School math teacher Audrey Dudek against Orange County Public Schools last week alleges that she was fired in 2013 after school administrators found out she was dating a black man, to whom she is now married.
A copy of the lawsuit obtained by WESH says that at the beginning of the 2011-2012 school year, principal Michelle Erickson learned that Dudek’s boyfriend was black.
“Upon encountering Dudek with her boyfriend, Principal Erickson appeared shocked and offended," the lawsuit said. "After that encounter, Principal Erickson treated Dudek differently.”
The lawsuit also claims that on another occasion, then-vice principal Anthony Serianni berated Dudek until she cried. When Dudek confided in a black security guard after the incident, Serianni allegedly complained about the teacher being associated with "those" people, referring to black staff members.
Dudek also says that during a talent show, school staff members, including Erickson and Serianni, took part in a racist skit in which staff wore "black face," "weave hair extensions" and gold teeth in a "pejorative display of 'black' culture."
Dudek was fired in 2013 on the basis of her race, gender and who she associated with, the lawsuit alleges.
A representative for the Orange County school district could not immediately be reached for comment. But in a statement sent to the Orlando Sentinel, the district said Dudek was not discriminated against.
"The district denies all allegations of discrimination by Ms. Dudek," spokeswoman Shari Bobinski said in an email. "The district will not comment any further due to pending litigation."
Dudek spoke about her time at Edgewater with the Sentinel.
"It hurt tremendously," Dudek said. "Part of the reason you become a teacher is you don't see color -- a person is a person."
The lawsuit seeks unspecified compensation for lost wages, "emotional pain" and "reputational injury."