SableGate: The Employment Law Perspective

I had lunch today with a friend who specializes in employment law. Thoughts from that meal:

First, the provision in the Margery Sable buy-out package that really rankles is the clause that allows her to keep all of the money paid by Mt. Lebanon *whether or not she finds another comparable job.* That's pretty unusual. Even if she weren't able to find another comparable job, so that the District would have to pay off the deal in full, separation agreements typically include this kind of basic protection for the employer.

Second, if conflict between the Superintendent and the School Board was so severe, why not try some intermediate measures? In management-speak, why not *manage* the problem (change the Superintendent's responsibilities but not her salary, for example, or change the reporting/authority structure to limit the scope of her discretion)? If managing proved unsatisfactory after some period of time, then termination might be appropriate, and the cost to the District might be much less. It's hard to imagine that the members of this School Board, experienced as they are, didn't think of this solution. But with the Sergeant Schultz "I know nothing" defense in place, we are free to assume that they didn't. Over in Montour, , the School Board seems to know a thing or two about setting up a Superintendent to be fired outright. Ironically, the acting Superintendent in Montour, Joe Findley, was all but fired not long ago from a position as principal of one of Mt. Lebanon's middle schools.

Third, this fiasco gives us a different perspective on the employment contract that Margery Sable was given when she was hired. The School District was so anxious that she might bolt if Board members were uncooperative that the contract provided that she would have to pay back part of her salary if she left early. Note to the solicitors for the Mt. Lebanon School District: If the District actually finds someone willing to take this job, find a way to write the contract so that we don't end up buying out someone else in 2 years.


0 Responses to "SableGate: The Employment Law Perspective"

Search Pittsblog

About Pittsblog

Pittsblog 2.0 is written by Mike Madison, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Send email to michael.j.madison[at] Mike also blogs at, on law and technology. Chris Briem of Null Space drops by from time to time.

All opinions expressed at Pittsblog 2.0 are those of their respective authors and of no one (and no thing) else, least of all the University of Pittsburgh.

Pittsblog 2.0 has a motto: "It's steel good in Pittsburgh." Say it aloud, with a Pittsburgh accent.

Comments are moderated.
Subscribe to Pittsblog comments


Blog Archive

Header Background

Header background images licensed from (left image) lemonad and (right image) plaskota under Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial - Share Alike 2.0 Generic licenses.


Copyright 2003-2010 Michael J. Madison - WP Theme by Brian Gardner - Blogger Blog Templates,