MERCEDES, Texas (ValleyCentral) — A former Mercedes Independent School District superintendent filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday, claiming that she was underpaid because she is a woman.
Carolyn Mendiola, who was arrested in June 2022 on charges of interference with public duties, filed the lawsuit, which claims Mercedes ISD violated the Equal Pay Act of 1963.
The lawsuit states Mendiola was hired in July 2019 with 24 years of experience in the education field before being “constructively discharged” on May 18, 2022 when her “work conditions had become intolerable.”
The document continues by saying Mendiola learned from a report from the Texas Associated of School Boards (TASB) that her compensation was $25,000 less than other districts within Region One.
The lawsuit claims that the Mercedes ISD school board treated Mendiola differently due to her gender when compared to two male superintendents.
“Former Superintendent Daniel Trevino received approximately $50,000 more in wages that included travel expenses and a car allowance,” the lawsuit states.
Mendiola learned that Richard Rivera, her replacement as superintendent, received a $1,000 car allowance per month that she did not receive.
After replacing Mendiola, the lawsuit claims Rivera was quoted in the McAllen Monitor as taking a $40,000 pay cut in salary from his previous position as a “courtesy” to Mercedes ISD. Mendiola suggests that this pay cut was to cure the Equal Pay Act violation.
On March 1, 2022, George McShan, who is described as a highly respected consultant, conducted a presentation for the Mercedes ISD school board, where he made it clear that Mendiola was being underpaid, the lawsuit stated.
Aside from the wage dispute, the lawsuit claims that Pedro Martinez III, a board trustee with Mercedes ISD, would humiliate Mendiola with verbal insults and accusations, including saying she would drink in front of employees.
“Martinez’s behavior was directed at Plaintiff (female), however, Martinez treated Plaintiff’s replacement, Richard Rivera differently since he is male,” the lawsuit stated.
Lastly, the lawsuit claims that a school board meeting was held on May 17, 2022, where they discussed an administrative building that was “substandard,” and needed a new roof. The board ordered Mendiola to approve the housing of students in the building “that was unsafe for the children to occupy.”
Mendiola said she asked the board majority to allow for more time for necessary repairs, but they voted against her recommendations. The following day, she submitted her resignation.
Mendiola asked for a trial by jury and is seeking compensation for damages to past and future wages.