Monday, March 10, 1997

Rolly & Wells: Trouble in Provo

By PAUL ROLLY and JOANN JACOBSEN-WELLS
THE SALT LAKE TRIBUNE


    The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has found that a Provo School District principal in 1993 illegally fired a teacher because the teacher was not Mormon, and has ordered the district to reach a fair settlement.
    The order focused on allegations against Gregory Hudnall, principal of Independence High, the district's alternative school. Hudnall also is chairman of the Provo City Council.
    The EEOC said Hudnall fired Charles M. Larson after Larson published a work on the Book of Abraham that Hudnall deemed anti-Mormon.
    The EEOC found that Hudnall reduced Larson's hours after he learned about Larson's book in 1992. Another teacher was given many of Larson's responsibilities.
    Subsequently, Larson was terminated under the guise of job elimination and an intern was hired to do his work.
    Charles D. Burtner, EEOC director in Phoenix, wrote the termination was ''pretextual [involving a false reason or motive put forth to hide the real one] and he was not considered for rehire because of his religion, non-Mormon.''
    Burtner continued: ''If [Provo School District] declines to discuss settlement,'' the EEOC will counsel the parties on ''court enforcement alternatives available to aggrieved persons and the commission.''
    Attorneys say the EEOC usually just issues a right-to-sue letter if it finds discrimination. It is rare for the EEOC to determine a case is so egregious that it will join the plaintiff in settlement negotiations.


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