DOCUMENT: Mediation meeting sparks second lawsuit for McCarthy, Webster University


Tracey McCarthy, Webster University associate legal studies professor, filed a second lawsuit against Webster on Jan. 10. That same day a U.S. district judge dismissed her first lawsuit against the university.

On Jan. 10, McCarthy filed suit against Webster for unlawful discrimination practices. McCarthy is suing for: retaliation, assault, false imprisonment, conspiracy, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligent infliction of emotional distress. A jury trial is scheduled for July 15.

In the lawsuit, McCarthy alleged Karen Tokarz, the meeting mediator, purposefully restrained McCarthy from leaving the room during a June 1, 2012 mediation meeting.

McCarthy also alleged in the suit that Tokarz acted as an agent of the university and “screamed threats” at her in the meeting. McCarthy claimed in the suit that Tokarz wouldn’t allow McCarthy, who was ill at the time, to leave the building unless she was “throwing up all over the floor.”

The lawsuit further states Tokarz then threatened to have a federal court judge sanction McCarthy if she attempted to leave the meeting. For this, McCarthy is suing the university for false imprisonment.

During the June 1 meeting, McCarthy claims in the lawsuit Webster demanded she resign from her tenured faculty position. McCarthy also alleged the university threatened to fire her. Webster denied these charges of retaliation in the lawsuit.

McCarthy asked the court to award her $2,000 for suffering and mental anguish.

All counts in the lawsuit stem from the June 1, 2012 meeting between McCarthy and Webster.

McCarthy alleged in the suit that Webster and Tokarz misled her to believe the meeting would be to mediate. However, McCarthy claimed in the suit that the meeting didn’t meet the definition of mediation.

Ballentine’s Law Dictionary defines the mediation of labor disputes as, “The settlement of labor disputes by conciliation or by arbitration of the matters in dispute.”

Ballentine’s defines agreement for arbitration as, “A contract between parties to a dispute involving their respective legal rights and duties that the disputed matters shall be referred to the decision of others and that the parties shall be bound by the decision reached by such persons.”

McCarthy’s lawsuit against Webster states Tokarz was working for the university and was not a true mediator.

“Karen Tokarz was at all relevant times holding herself out as an attorney and mediator. Karen Tokarz was paid by Webster University to represent Webster University’s interests and positions,” the lawsuit stated.

The lawsuit also states, “Respondent, Webster University, in knowing and intentional cooperation and agreement with Karen Tokarz promoted and facilitated unlawful retaliation against Dr. Tracey McCarthy in the June 1, 2012 meeting.”

McCarthy is seeking punitive damages and financial relief for the attorney fees she has incurred due to the June 1 meeting.
The lawsuit further states Tokarz intentionally acted in “physically threatening conduct that placed Dr. Tracey McCarthy in apprehension of physical harm.” For this, McCarthy has sued the university for assault and emotional distress.

The lawsuit states this emotional distress as well as the false imprisonment, assault and retaliatory threats violated the duty of care Webster had as McCarthy’s employer.

Cornell University Law School defines duty of care as, “The principle that directors and officers of a corporation in making all decisions in their capacities as corporate fiduciaries, must act in the same manner as a reasonably prudent person in their position would.”

Webster has employed McCarthy since 1997. McCarthy first sued the university for employment discrimination in August of 2011. The case was in St. Louis County Circuit Court on four counts: race discrimination, sex discrimination, disability discrimination and retaliation. Court documents from McCarthy’s first lawsuit against Webster states McCarthy is an African-American and suffers from cardiopulmonary disorder.

McCarthy’s lawyer for her most recent case is Attorney Philip H. Dennis.

McCarthy sues Webster for second time by WebsterJournal

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