Mesa Coach Wins Damages in Retaliation Case

December 4, 2009

from Title IX blog

A jury in San Diego Superior Court found that Mesa Community College retaliated against former basketball coach when it terminated her position for speaking out against inequities in women’s athletics, in violation of Title IX. Lorri Sulpizio’s complaints had triggered an investigation by the Office for Civil Rights, which lead to an agreement by the college to remedy disparities in support and resources between men’s and women’s teams.

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Former Mesa College Coach Wins Bias Lawsuit

December 4, 2009

from San Diego Metropolitan Magazine

Lorri Sulpizio, former coach of the women’s basketball team at San Diego Mesa College, has won a favorable verdict from a California State Court jury from a lawsuit she filed in July 2008 against the San Diego Community College District. The jury awarded $28,000 — the equivalent of one year’s salary — in damages, finding that the district had retaliated against Sulpizio when she complained that Mesa engaged in gender inequities in violation of Title IX, a federal statute that prohibits discrimination based on sex in any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance in the United States. Sulpizio, who claimed she was fired by the district after she complained, was represented by the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Leslie Levy of Boxer & Gerson LLP, and Mattheus E. Stephens of Stock Stephens LLP. “This is a victory for the student-athletes who work so hard to succeed on the court and in the classrooms,” said Sulpizio. “They deserve nothing less than fair and equal treatment. I remain committed to Title IX and ending gender discrimination in sports, and this verdict inspires me to continue working for equality.”

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Former Mesa College Coach Awarded Damages

December 3, 2009

from the San Diego Union-Tribune

A San Diego Superior Court jury awarded former Mesa College women’s basketball coach Lorri Sulpizio $28,000 in damages after finding she had been retaliated against by the school for complaining about unequal treatment she perceived in its athletic facilities for women.

The $28,000 is equivalent to one year’s salary for Sulpizio, who sued Mesa in July 2008 citing violations of Title IX, the federal law that prohibits discrimination based on gender in federally funded education activities. Sulpizio was fired in 2007 after she made her complaints. She said no reason was given at the time for her dismissal.

“I’m really happy about it,” Sulpizio said. “We’ve been working on this for a long time. I’ve been committed to Title IX for a long time. I’m very pleased.”

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National Center for Lesbian Rights Wins Landmark Title IX Retaliation Lawsuit on Behalf of Former Head Basketball Coach

December 3, 2009

Jury Finds Title IX Retaliation at San Diego Mesa College

Today, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) secured a favorable jury verdict on behalf of Lorri Sulpizio, the former head coach of the women’s basketball team at San Diego Mesa College (Mesa), a college within the San Diego Community College District (District). The California State Court jury awarded $28,000, the equivalent of one year’s salary, in damages, finding that the District had retaliated against Sulpizio when she complained that Mesa engaged in gender inequities in violation of Title IX, a federal statute that prohibits discrimination based on sex in any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance in the United States.

Sulpizio was represented by the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Leslie Levy of Boxer & Gerson, LLP, and Mattheus E. Stephens of Stock Stephens, LLP.

“I am very pleased with the verdict,” said Sulpizio. “This is a victory for the student-athletes who work so hard to succeed on the court and in the classrooms. They deserve nothing less than fair and equal treatment. I remain committed to Title IX and ending gender discrimination in sports, and this verdict inspires me to continue working for equality.”

Filed on July 24, 2008, the lawsuit alleged that Mesa officials retaliated against Sulpizio after she repeatedly raised concerns about unequal treatment of female athletes and faculty, and ultimately fired her. The complaint was brought against the San Diego Community College District as a defendant at trial. The jury found that the District violated federal and state laws.

“This verdict should underscore for coaches and athletic directors in the California community college system—and in two-year colleges across the nation—that the protections of Title IX apply just as strongly as in any four-year college,” said NCLR Senior Staff Attorney Amy Todd-Gher, one of the trial attorneys on Sulpizio’s case. “Title IX is a statute that should be used to continue to open the doors wide for women to participate equally in college athletics, and to protect employees from retaliation when they have the courage to speak up in the face of gender inequities.”

Lorri Sulpizio served as head coach of the Mesa women’s basketball team for six years, from 2001-2007, after spending three years as an assistant coach. She led the team to championship play at tournaments, and secured several high-level finishes in the Pacific Coast Conference, including an undefeated conference Championship in 2002.

“This verdict vindicates a dedicated coach who has an excellent track record running successful basketball programs,” said NCLR Sports Project Director Helen Carroll. “In a sports world with fewer and fewer women coaches, this verdict will hopefully put a stop to retaliation against coaches who advocate for gender equality.”

The case was tried in the department of the Honorable Judge Ronald Prager.


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