Lunch Lady’s Lawsuit: Judge Upholds Six of Eight Counts vs. Food Services Director, Board of Ed and Town

A U.S. District Court judge has ruled against a motion to dismiss a New Canaan Public Schools lunch lady’s claims that she was discriminated against based on gender, labored in a hostile work environment and suffered intentional infliction of emotional distress by her boss, the schools’ head of food services. In a Nov. 25 order, Judge Alvin Thompson said that Antonia Torcasio, 59—a lunch worker for 12 years who has been out on unpaid sick leave since October 2013—was subject to an “adverse employment action” under her manager, Bruce Gluck, that “occurred under circumstances giving rise to an inference of invidious discrimination.”

“Drawing inferences in a light most favorable to the plaintiff, the allegations in the Complaint, taken as true, show that Gluck treated women one way and men quite differently, and the basis for his conduct was gender.”

The ruling upholds six of the eight counts against the defendants—Gluck, the Board of Ed and the town—brought in a lawsuit filed in January by Torcasio’s attorney, Richard Pate of Westport. The Board of Ed’s attorneys, Stamford-based Ryan Ryan Deluca LLP, in April filed a Motion to Dismiss. Asked about the ruling, Pate said it “brings my client one step closer to having her day in court.”

“Given the quantity and severity of Bruce Gluck’s misconduct, it seems that the defendants will now defend themselves by asserting that he was horrendous to all, males and females, so he should be left alone because he did not discriminate,” Pate said.

Lunch Lady Sues New Canaan Board of Ed, Citing Abuse by Food Services Director

The director of food services for New Canaan Public Schools in screaming, cursing, throwing objects and otherwise intimidating and degrading women he oversees—causing one to urinate herself and sending others to therapy—has created a hostile work environment that has not been sufficiently addressed by administrators, according to a lawsuit filed Jan. 12 in U.S. District Court. In her complaint, Antonia Torascio, 58, a lunch worker for 12 years, said Bruce Gluck has abused only women (not men) in the food services division, which is composed of 29 women and four men. “Mrs. Torcasio was also subjected to listening to Mr. Gluck refer to female members of the BOE, mothers of students and female staff members, including the school principal, as ‘[b-tches],’ ‘morons’ and ‘schmucks,’ ” the complaint says. “Mr. Gluck also used the words ‘[b-tch]’ and some form of the word ‘[f-word]’ when referring to female employees.”

Catherine Nietzel, an attorney at Stamford-based Ryan Ryan Deluca LLP, representing the defendants, said that Torascio and a small group of workers have suffered no abuse—rather, they object to their supervisor seeking excellence in a critically important division whose work directly affects the health of New Canaan schoolchildren.