ShareThis Page

Retired custodian sues Norwin, alleges harassment, threats by principal

| Sunday, May 4, 2014, 11:03 p.m.

A retired custodian has filed an age discrimination lawsuit in Westmoreland County against the Norwin School District and two employees, claiming an elementary school principal bragged that she was a competitive body builder and physically threatened him, according to court documents.

The suit filed last week by William Breeger Sr., 72, names the school district, Stewartsville Elementary School Principal Doreen Harris and Thomas Wrobeleski, the human resources director.

Harris, 46, of Penn Hills, won the 2005 national championship for the Organization of Competitive Body Builders. She formerly worked in the Penn Hills School District.

The suit was filed by attorney Lawrence Kerr of Greensburg after a finding from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in February that found “strong evidence” that Breeger was harassed and falsely accused of work deficiencies because of his age and his previous complaints of discrimination against Harris.

Harris declined comment and referred questions to school district spokesman Jonathan Szish, who did not respondto a request for comment. Superintendent William Kerr was unavailable for comment, a secretary said.

Breeger was head custodian at the school, where he worked for 16 years until he retired in 2012. He claims in the lawsuit that Harris began harassing him in 2006 and physically threatened him during one confrontation.

“I know I am known as a bitch in the Norwin School District, and that's OK with me because I have a school to run,” she told Breeger, according to the lawsuit.

After Harris sent Breeger a disciplinary letter threatening him with further discipline and possible firing, he asked her why she was treating him differently from other employees, the filing states.

“Yes, I do treat you different,” she said, according to the suit.

Breeger said when he tried to talk, Harris told him to be quiet.

“Don't talk to me now. Let me have my monologue. I'm a physical person. I lift weights. I can move a table and lift chairs. ... Do I trust you? No. Not as far as I can throw you, and I can throw you over that table if I wanted. A couple of feet. Now, I don't want you running to your union and telling them I threatened you,” Breeger claims he was told in the lawsuit.

The EEOC finding that gave Breeger permission to sue Norwin noted that Harris was placed on a Performance Improvement Plan because of the way she treated others. The commission found her to be “unjust, belligerent, disrespectful and abusive to many people.”

The EEOC said the district sided with Harris on the issue.

Wrobeleski failed to properly investigate Breeger's complaints despite statements from corroborating witnesses that supported his accounts, according to the finding.

Richard Gazarik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6292 or at

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.