A former athletic director of the elite French American School of New York claims he was fired to make way for a younger, less experienced replacement who was paid half as much.
Hugues O’csay, 59, accused French American School of New York of age discrimination, in a July 27 lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court, White Plains.
He was one of several employees who were fired, he claims, all “over fifty, and replaced with younger, unqualified employees at lower salaries.”
French American School of New York spokeswoman Elizabeth Ryan declined to discuss an ongoing legal matter, but she said the school is “committed to fostering a supportive and inclusive working environment … free from discrimination of any kind.”
The school has evolved from a one-classroom preschool in 1980, according to its website, to three campuses in Mamaroneck and Larchmont with 700 students from nursery school through grade 12. It provides bilingual education for francophone families and expatriate students and confers International Baccalaureate and the French baccalaureate diplomas.
O’csay said he had 30 years of experience in teaching physical education and directing athletic departments, when the school hired him in 2011.
Before then, the school had no athletics profile, he claims, but during his nine-year tenure he put the French American School of New York “on the map for interscholastic sports.”
He directed 20 coaches and 32 teams, according to the lawsuit. The school won championships in track and field, cross country, soccer, rugby and tennis. He formed a ski club and annual ski camp and created a sports night recognition program for student-athletes.
In January 2020, he was offered a contract renewal for the 2020-21 school year, and a $132,623 salary.
Five months later, in June 2020, he was notified that his position was eliminated and his contract for the next school year was revoked.
The termination letter, included as an exhibit in the lawsuit, cites the “heavy impact” of the Covid-19 pandemic on programs and operations, as well as a decrease in enrollment in the upcoming school year, “and resulting financial impact.”
“The school is implementing a layoff of certain positions,” the letter states, and “your position is being eliminated.”
The basis for his firing was a “complete fabrication,” O’csay claims. “FASNY simply re-titled the position and hired his assistant who was not credentialed and 19 years his junior and at half of his salary.”
Instead of “athletic director,” the position was titled as “PE teacher and head of physical education,” the lawsuit states. The responsibilities were the same.
O’csay said he has not found a new academic job in the past year. He lost his medical plan, employer-sponsored life insurance and 401(K) employer contributions.
Last November he sold his house in White Plains, according to a property record. Now he lives a hundred miles away in Hunter, Greene County.
He is demanding lost wages and benefits and reinstatement by FASNY for alleged age discrimination and breach of contract.
Jessy Kort, a French teacher for 26 years at the school, made similar accusations in a federal lawsuit filed last December. She claimed she was demoted to part-time status in 2019 because of her age and high compensation, and then fired in June 2020, ostensibly because of the pandemic, and replaced with a younger teacher.
She demanded $750,000. The case was referred to a mediation program, according to court records, and then settled. The terms of the settlement were not disclosed.
O’csay is represented by Mount Kisco attorney Marc O. Sheridan.