A jury finds that "outsourcing" actually meant "reprisal"

Cortese has since left the department, which is again being reorganized. Brady's job has finally been eliminated and HISD is retraining her as a personal computer trainer. School district employees complain that it now takes weeks to get problems solved that used to take days. That's in part because district departments cannot turn to a $20-an-hour staffer like Brady, but instead must go through a time-consuming approval process to bring in $65-an-hour outside consultant Carney.

Last week Judge David Hittner upheld the jury's verdict and judgment, which the school district is certain to appeal. Defense attorney Mlachak was hardly gracious about his courtroom loss. He said Brady's lawyers, Beatrice Mladenka-Fowler and Barbara Gupta, have built a "cottage industry" from suing school districts for employment practices.

But after returning their verdict, the jurors, a mix of workers and managers with a systems programmer as their foreman, told the lawyers that if HISD had handled its employee grievances in a careful and timely manner, it most likely wouldn't have had a jury second-guessing its motives and assessing it a million-plus dollars. Class dismissed.

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