A former track and field coach at the University of Texas says that the athletic department discriminated against her because of her gender and her race.
The coach says that after the school discovered that she was engaged in a consensual relationship with an athlete on the track team, she was put on administrative leave and forced to resign. According to the complaint, other staff engaged in similar behavior but were not subject to such severe penalties and some were not disciplined at all.
She says that male coworkers who are not African-American were not punished, even when their relationships with students were well known throughout the athletic department. In one specific case, the coach points to a male coworker who coached the football team who was engaged in a relationship with a student but who received only a letter of reprimand as a result and was later promoted to a better position at nearly double the pay.
The former coach filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which is often the first step for employees who believe they have been treated unfairly and unlawfully by their employer. The EEOC takes several months to review each claim and issues a ruling, which can result in a settlement agreement between the employee and employer.
After filing an EEOC complaint, employees may also pursue a formal lawsuit. In commencing a lawsuit, both parties have the right to engage in extensive discovery to get more information about what happened and why. This is often crucial to determine whether or not there were discriminatory motivations behind a firing or demotion of an employee.
Source: USA Today, "Former Texas coach Kearney alleges discrimination," George Schroeder, March 23, 2013.
Information about employee rights during a dispute can be found on our Texas retaliation page.