Reporting illegal activity within the workplace in Minnesota and across the United States may seem like the honorable thing to do as an employee, but unfortunately it does not always lead to expressions of gratitude from higher-ups. In fact, in some cases, it has caused retaliation by those in charge, leading to eventual termination. When employee rights are violated in this way, state and federal laws play a powerful role in providing protection.
Recently, this type of scenario played out at a Midwestern university, according to one of their former coaches. The woman, who filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against Ball State University in Indiana, lost her job in 2010. Her lawsuit details various charges including retaliation for complaining about sex discrimination, defamation, and First Amendment and equal protection retaliation.
The woman was reportedly put on probation after the university self-reported six alleged NCAA rule violations in her program. Less than a year later, she was fired. But the woman and her legal team say the university was out to get her because of her outspokenness about the university not following federal Title IX laws. The laws apply to any education program that receives federal financial assistance and prohibit discrimination based on sex. The university has been under investigation by the Department of Education for the last four years on the matter.
The former coach was seeking reinstatement of her position as a women’s tennis coach with all benefits, compensatory and punitive damages, court costs and other expenses, as well as lost back and front pay. Instead of going to trial, due to start in November, the university settled in exchange for the ex-coach dropping her wrongful termination lawsuit. The settlement includes $550,000 in cash and health benefits for life. The settlement package is worth a total of $710,000, according to a news report. The university claims that their defense was strong and that they would have won at trial, but it was cheaper to settle the case.
Source: The Star Press, “Fired BSU coach gets $710K settlement,” Doug Zaleski, June 29, 2012