Monday, June 02, 2008

HS Golfer Awarded $19K in Discrimination Claim

Remember Lindsey Thomka? She's on the boy's only golf team at Cathedral High School in Springfield, Massachusetts, but in 2005, she wasn't allowed to compete individually in the state tournament for boys golf, despite finishing fourth in the regional qualifier. Last year, the Hampden County Superior Court ruled that Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association's policy that excluded Thomka violated the state constitution's equal rights amendment.

Thanks to a ruling by the same court last week, Thomka's lawyer will get paid. Barring a successful appeal, MIAA must pay over $19,000 in attorneys fees to Thomka's family. Attorneys fee awards are important equalizers in discrimination cases like this one, where the discrimination, while actual and unlawful, does not cause a harm that can be remedied with money damages. Attorneys fees operate to deter institutions from engaging in unlawful discrimination, and they make it a little easier for civil rights plaintiffs' lawyers to stay in business. (Thomka's lawyer had not billed her family for his legal services.)

Thomka graduates this week and will play golf at Elon College in North Carolina next year.

[thanks, Jeff!]