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This is a sad story about the perceived role of women in a small town. On the part of some. (Somehow I thought this would be a slow news week. It looks like I picked the wrong week to…)

Warrensburg, Missouri, population approximately 16,000, is the county seat and home of the University of Central Missouri. Whiteman Air Force Base, the primary base for the B-2 bomber, is 9 miles to the east of Warrensburg.

Aaron Podolefsky became the president of the University of Central Missouri in July 2005.

…President Podolefsky is married to Ronnie Lynn (Shapiro) Podolefsky, a well-respected attorney specializing in civil rights, employment law, and mediation…

Excellent – a smart, accomplished professional.

December 7, 2007

Former players sue Warrensburg district, coach for alleged abuse

By ALAN SCHER ZAGIER

Associated Press Writer

Six female students at Warrensburg High School and their parents have sued the school district and a girl’s basketball and softball coach over what they call a pattern of verbal abuse and sexual misconduct.

The students, identified individually only as Jane Doe in the lawsuit, say school officials dismissed their complaints and declined to investigate for more than one year – in part because of possible negative public reaction to another well-known coach getting in trouble. The school fired its football coach in 2006.

“They have ignored the complaints. They have not protected the kids,” said Warrensburg attorney Ronnie Podolefsky, who represents the students and their families. “It’s beyond belief the way they have not taken action…”

[emphasis added]

Then, this week, another part of the local story gets carried by media across the nation – except for the Warrensburg Daily Star-Journal. Even the student newspaper (a weekly) at the University of Central Missouri carried this:

Abuse claims divide small town

By Alan Scher Zagier

Associated Press Writer / January 18, 2008

…The teens have been called liars, bullies and even white trash (three of the players who have sued the white coach also are white, three are black). They’ve been insulted to their faces and on Facebook and MySpace pages. Their parents’ jobs have been threatened. And the involvement of their attorney, who also happens to be the wife of the University of Central Missouri’s president, has sparked a backlash that includes efforts to oust the college leader…

…The police officer whose daughter is part of the suit said that an opposing parent tried to get him fired. Another plaintiff’s parent, who runs a store in town, said some customers have stopped shopping at his place…

…By the estimation of Hough’s supporters, the college president’s wife is out of line. They want her to stop representing the players, and if that means firing her husband — Aaron Podolefsky — then so be it…

“…It’s nothing new when the disgruntled resort to the old stereotype of an uppity wife who doesn’t know her place,” Ronnie Podolefsky said. “My career is independent and separate from the university…”

[emphasis added]

“…They want her to stop representing the players, and if that means firing her husband… then so be it…” As if this type of intimidation would accomplish anything. Those individuals appear painfully ignorant of the legal system and the obligations of legal counsel.

Well, Ronnie Podolefsky is an attorney. She’s doing her job.

If it’s not even covered in the local paper, how can the town “be divided”? You think every one of the approximately 16,000 individuals in the ‘burg have taken a “side” on this, let alone have any awareness of what has transpired? The grapevine can only do so much…  

Let’s take a look at some other cases from the past:

Protecting the Rights at Home of Those Who Defend Freedom Abroad

…Mark is pursuing a complaint against his former employer because under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), a federal law, an employer can not discriminate if an employee is called into military active duty. Additionally, the state of Iowa has a Military Code that imposes criminal charges if an employer fires or denies leave to a Reservist who is ordered to temporary active duty.

His attorney, Ronnie Podolefsky, is outraged: “The men and women being activated and deployed to Iraq deserve the assurance that the jobs this takes them from will be there when they come home. It’s not only contemptible to fire someone called up to serve our nation, it’s against the law.”

[emphasis added]

That’s a noble enterprise, don’t you think?

Here’s another one:

Case Archive Subject: Greer v. Beck’s Pub & Grille et al., No. C03-2070 LRR (N.D. Iowa, Jan. 4, 2006)

Legal Momentum Role: Represented plaintiff.

Subject Matter: Right of victim to protection from employer retaliation for having obtained a restraining order against abusive boyfriend/coworker.

Legal Momentum filed this case on behalf of Antonette Greer, a woman who was fired from her job as a dishwasher the day after she obtained a protective order against her abusive co-worker/boyfriend.

This case resulted in the first-ever ruling by a court in Iowa allowing an employee to sue for wrongful discharge in violation of public policy based on allegations that she lost her job because she got a protective order.

While the district court dismissed additional sex discrimination claims – claims that were based on the fact that the employer fired our client, Ms. Greer, while continuing to employ her abuser, despite his criminal convictions arising from the abuse – the wrongful discharge claim made new law in Iowa. The case was subsequently resolved.

Legal Momentum was co-counsel in this case with Iowa attorney Ronnie Podolefsky, and subsequently Iowa attorney Paige Fiedler.

[emphasis added]

That’s my kind of legal counsel. She’s doing her job. She’s not supposed to walk three steps behind, and to the right.