(CN) – A school bus attendant claims in court that she was wrongfully fired for nervously laughing at a student who missed the bus and tried to chase it down.
Ollie Hinex claims in San Bernardino Superior Court that she was a bus attendant for the San Bernardino School District, charged with monitoring students.
She says she was riding the bus in April 2011 when driver Belinda Williams stopped to pick up a student, Jeronino Hernandez, at his regular stop. He wasn’t there, so Williams continued to her next stop, Hinex claims.
“Plaintiff looked through the side mirror and [s]aw the student’s head peeking out of the door of his house and he started running out the door,” the lawsuit states. “Plaintiff was in disbelief and shock to see him running towards the bus. Plaintiff laughed nervously but did not think that the child running after the bus was funny.
“Shortly after watching the student running, they heard a loud bang on the back of the bus,” Hinex claims. “Belinda informed [Hinex] after looking in her rear view mirror that it was Hernandez who had hit the bus.”
Williams called the dispatcher for bus operator Durham School Services and was told to keep driving to the next stop so that Hernandez wouldn’t get hurt, according to the complaint.
But before they got there, Hinex’s supervisor, Dora Parham, allegedly asked to see Hinex and Williams in her office after the route.
“In Parham’s office, Parham showed [Hinex] the video from the bus, which showed plaintiff laughing,” the lawsuit states.
Hinex says she tried to explain that it was “nervous laughter” due to her “disbelief and shock,” but Parham simply “handed [her] a check and told her that she was fired for laughing in the video.” The supervisor gave Hinex some papers to sign, but Hinex claims she refused to sign them without reading them first.
When Parham called the women back into her office on May 2, Hinex claims Parham accused her “of having no compassion.” She then showed Hinex an email from a school district employee who wanted both Hinex and Williams fired for “lack of compassion and appalling behavior,” according to the lawsuit.
Hinex claims she was fired “without good cause and despite her continued satisfactory job performance.”
She says her union representative told her that the union “cannot ‘fight’ the district.”
The former bus attendant is suing the district and Durham School Services for alleged termination in violation of public policy, bad faith, negligence, discrimination, retaliation, and breach of good faith and fair dealing.
Her attorney is Mfon Ikon of Van Nuys, Calif.
Parham is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit.
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