Watch a Woman Get Arrested For Questioning Her Boss’s Raise
Most employees aren’t getting pay raises like they used to, teachers included. The worst part of it is that while the majority of workers aren’t getting any pay increases, others are making out like bandits.
The fact most employees aren’t getting raises definitely is not great, but at least they’re not getting arrested for questioning why their bosses are getting raises. In Louisiana, a teacher was arrested for asking why her boss, the superintendent, got a raise. Why did it happen, and can it happen to you?
The whole incident happens in Vermilion Parish on the south coast of Louisiana. A recent special school board meeting discussed the superintendent’s new contract. When the floor opens to the public, teacher Deyshia Hargrave stands and voices her opposition.
After making her initial comments, Hargrave sits down. Later in the meeting, she is recognized to speak again, at which point school board president Anthony Fontana has a police officer remove her from the meeting room. She was taken into custody for resisting arrest.
Next: What made Hargrave so mad?
Why Deyshia Hargrave was upset
At a time when most people get minuscule raises (if they get raises at all) superintendent Jerome Puyau is raking it in. The school board voted in favor of bumping his salary to $140,811. His previous salary was $110,130, so he got a 27.8% pay raise. Meanwhile, Louisiana teachers have some of the lowest salaries in the country. Puyau’s raise is almost enough to pay one average teacher salary in Vermilion Parish. Deyshia Hargrave said as much directly to the school board:
“We’re doing the work, the students are doing the work, at the top, that’s not where kids learn, it’s in the classrooms and those teachers, like myself, are not getting a dime,” she said. “I’m going to use the word absurd that we are even considering giving someone a raise when these teachers are working so hard and not getting a dime.”
Next: The story behind the story
The school board has been at odds for some time
Some of the issues surrounding the superintendent’s raise have been brewing for a while. School board president Anthony Fontana has been angling to lock in a new contract for superintendent Jerome Puyau for a while. The new contract just so happens to carry a substantial pay raise. However, teachers and members of the community have not been in favor. Fontana says he was all for outspoken teacher Deyshia Hargrave’s arrest and believes efforts not to award Puyau with a contract are a conspiracy.
Next: Here’s why tensions have been building.
Tensions have been building for a while
Teachers have it really tough in Louisiana. The state is already one of the worst places to raise kids. Low salaries and large class sizes keep the best teachers from coming to the state. Despite those hurdles, Vermilion Parish schools somehow improved their results. The fact teachers aren’t being recognized or rewarded for turning things around is a bone of contention.
Next: But wait, there’s more
Two sides of the same coin
Vermilion Parish superintendent Jerome Puyau stands by his pay raise, citing performance improvements throughout the school district. In a state with some of the worst schools in the country, that’s something to be proud of. One of Deyshia Hargrave’s big issues is Puyau getting the pay raise because of the hard work of the teachers, who are getting little if any recognition for the improvements.
Next: There could be a legal battle brewing.
Deyshia Hargrave was arrested illegally
The manner in which Deyshia Hargrave was removed from the meeting wasn’t on the up and up. Being handcuffed and manhandled, as Hargrave was, violates the Fourth Amendment. ” I believe she has a claim against the officer who arrested her, and the police department and the city for whom he works, under the Fourth Amendment for false arrest, excessive force, and false imprisonment,” explains Eric Sarver, Esq., an employment law attorney and founder of The Law Offices of Eric M. Sarver. “Similarly, if there are no grounds to arrest a person, and the person is not threatening the police officer’s safety, then it follows that any force used is excessive force. This is true, even if the person was not seriously harmed or injured. You don’t need to be shot or beaten up for an excessive force claim.”
Next: Could this happen to you?
Hargrave’s case walks the fine line
When it comes to matters of free speech, the gray area is as wide as the Grand Canyon. As the UCLA Law Review notes, ranting and raving in public is sometimes more protected as free speech than measured words in a government meeting. In one incident in Illinois, a citizen placed an entire park district board under arrest. The board didn’t have a public session at a meeting, in violation of state law. However, in neighboring Missouri the people running the meetings aren’t required to allow citizens to voice their opinions. Depending on where you live or who’s running the meeting, you might have to keep your mouth shut.
However, Eric Sarver of The Law Offices of Eric M. Sarver viewed the video of Deyshia Hargrave’s arrest, and he strongly believes Hargrave had her First Amendment rights violated. “The law says that a public employee’s speech, especially ‘speech of public concern’ expressed lawfully as a concerned citizen, is protected speech by the First Amendment,” Sarver says. “Thus, an employer who retaliates against or punishes the employee for voicing such speech is in violation of civil law and can be sued under federal statute.”
It’s safe to say, if you ever find yourself in a similar situation, you definitely have a legal leg to stand on.
Next: The case against Deyshia Hargrave
Remember, a boss is a boss
No one should stand for having their First Amendment rights trampled on, as Deyshia Hargrave seemingly did. Yet the members of the school board could have viewed her comments as unprofessional. When she complains about teachers not getting raises, it’s akin to saying she’s not getting paid enough to do the job. That’s one of the things you should never say to your boss or coworkers. She didn’t threaten to quit or swear, but her actions could be construed as having a bad attitude, which is a big no-no when dealing with your boss.
Next: We find a bright spot.
The silver lining
Deyshia Hargrave was humiliated in front of her colleagues. Since it’s now a national story, everyone has seen what happened. It probably won’t be easy for Hargrave to put this behind her, but at least she has tons of support. The city attorney for the city of Abbeville, the Vermilion Parish seat and the town where the school board meeting took place, decided not to press charges. Strangers have rallied around her in ways both very good (the ACLU is investigating) and very bad (anonymous death threats). It looks like Hargrave will be allowed to keep her job as she considers her next steps.
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