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University of Texas Discrimination Suit Could be Retaliation

A discrimination suit has been filed against the University of Texas this past Thursday. The suit was filed by Beverly Kearney, the former track and field coach, who was fired last year for employee misconduct. Kearney was fired for having an improper relationship with one of her student-athletes.

Now Kearney is claiming that her dismissal from the university is due to discrimination because of race and gender. Her claim is that there have been other improper relationships with coaches and other school staff with their students or employees, but those relationships were ignored because the perpetrators were male and not African-American.

Her lawsuit uses as an example a one-time improper encounter between an offensive coordinator for the football team and a former quarterback. The offensive coordinator was not fired, but his salary was frozen for almost a year instead. However, that incident did result in the formation of a task force to review policies regarding student and staff relationships. The task force is in the process of coming up with proposed changes and recommendations to the current policies.

Kearney has been credited with leading the track and field team to a series of championships. She was also the first African-American head coach at the university in Austin.

UT's vice president for legal affairs says the "unfounded allegations" will be reviewed and responded to. Kearney's attorneys claim that her dismissal from her job was also in retaliation because Kearney had complained about discrimination at the university.

When a disgruntled employee claims discrimination, a company or facility has a right to defend themselves. If Kearney's allegations are found to be true, the university will no doubt take steps to correct this type of behavior, but this lawsuit could also be found to be unsubstantiated, coming from retaliation by the plaintiff instead.

Source: texastribune.com, "Former Star Track Coach Sues UT for Discrimination" Reeve Hamilton, Nov. 14, 2013

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