The lawyer for Bev Kearney, former track coach at the University of Texas, says they will file suit, soon regarding her EEOC complaint. Coach Kearney won six national titles in track at UT. Her EEOC complaint alleges discrimination based on race, gender and retaliation. She was suspended because school officials discovered she had had a relationship with a studenty some ten years prior. Ms. Mearney then resigned when the school told her they were prepared to terminate her employment. Coach Kearney alleges she was disciplined for an offense for which other coaches have not suffered similar discipline. See San Antonio Express news report. I previously wrote about her EEOC charge here.
As I mentioned before, Ms. Kearney’s case is higher profile than most EEOC charges, but many discrimination suits follow the same pattern of proof: a minority person is treated differently in how discipline is imposed. Her case will depend on the extent to which she can show other coaches or other staff members committed the same or similar offense and were treated with more leniency. These sorts of cases can be difficult. The employee must show 1) the comparator is truly comparable, and 2) the offense is the same or similar. And, her case has another twist. She resigned. So, there will surely be an issue regarding the extent to which her termination was truly imminent or likely. I always advise persons not to resign if at all possible.
Yes, the caselaw recognizes that some situations are so intolerable that a person must quit. But, the situation must be so bad that a person’s health is at stake, or the treatment is so degrading. I have seen many cases in which the working conditions became very bad, but the court still found that it was not so bad that the employee truly had to quit. And, under Title VII, a person is not entitled to any remedies if s/he voluntarily quits.
So, now her lawyer says they will file suit because the initial six months has elapsed. After six months, an employee can ask the EEOC for permission to file suit.