Mar 20, 2014 08:42 AM EDT
Former Golf Coach Gets $360,000 in Unlawful Termination Case
A Hennepin County district judge ruled for Katie Brenny, a former associate golf coach at the University of Minnesota Tuesday, entitling her to $360,000 for mental anguish she faced due to sexual discrimination and unlawful termination.
Brenny filed a lawsuit against the school and then-university golf program director John Harris Jan. 2011, alleging that officials fired her after they learnt about her sexual orientation.
Brenny said that just after a couple of months into the job, most of her duties began disappearing without any prior notice. Despite filing complaints with the then-athletic director Joel Maturi, she was asked to do odd jobs like sell premium tickets and book suites for campus events or resign.
Brenny eventually decided to leave the campus. Later she learnt that Harris was behind her unlawful termination.
In a 38-page ruling, Judge Thomas Sipkins said that Brenny was intentionally demeaned, belittled and barred from her job. The Judge said that both the director and the university violated the state's Human Rights Act prohibition of discrimination against a person on the basis of sexual orientation.
"These adverse actions by Harris as the University's director of golf were intentional and motivated by his discriminatory animus toward Brenny because of her sexual orientation," the judge found, SC Times reports.
The judge found that university officials, including Maturi, "consistently deferred to Mr. Harris's wishes" and "this deference permitted Mr. Harris's conduct toward, and treatment of, Ms. Brenny and led to the adverse employment actions which he took against her."
As a result, the Judge awarded Brenny a maximum of $334,000 for lost wages and another $25,000 for mental anguish.
Donald Chance Mark Jr., Brenny's attorney, is grateful for the ruling.
"We feel it is a complete vindication for what Katie has been saying all along about her treatment at the university," Mark said.
Reacting to the ruling, university spokesman Chuck Tombarge said that the University is disappointed with the decision. Tomabarge said that they will closely analyse and review the findings to determine the next step, Star Tribune reports.
Harris quit the school's golf program June 2011, five months after Brenny sued. Brenny now 33, works for the U.S. Golf Association in New York.
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