A Knox County, T.N., school security guard has filed a lawsuit against the Knox County school board and Knox County government over a May 2015 termination.
Attorney James A.H. Bell says his client John Smelser was fired by Gus Paidousis, chief of school security, because Paidousis didn’t like the fact that he was married to a black woman and has biracial children.
Paidousis came under fire in December after three school security captains — all with prior law enforcement experience — lodged a complaint against him, alleging he made racist comments about Smelser’s interracial marriage, sexually harassed a female employee, exhibited an explosive anger that fostered fear among those on the force, retaliated against uncooperative employees and intimidated complaining employees by having surveillance devices installed and trained on their work stations. Another security officer already had filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging favoritism in hiring.
Smelser is asking for $250,000 in compensatory damages and a “mandatory order requiring defendants to abide by the laws that prohibit race discrimination and ordering the appropriate employees involved in the acts of race discrimination to receive appropriate training.”