Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Tennessee Athletics Staff Settle Retaliation Suit for $750,000 + Fees

Three former members of the University of Tennessee Athletics Department staff have settled a lawsuit, ongoing since 2012, that challenged pay disparities between their positions that worked with female athletes and those doing the equivalent job for male athletes.  They had also alleged that athletic department officials retaliated against them when they complained about pay discrimination.

Under the terms of the settlement, the university will pay each of the three plaintiffs -- former associate director of sports medicine, Jenny Moshak, and two former strength coaches Heather Mason and Collin Schlosser -- a combined total of $750,000, and will also cover the plaintiffs' attorneys fees, which are estimated to add to another quarter-million to price tag of the settlement.

This case is a good reminder of the various ways that sex discrimination can manifest in athletics. On the one hand, paying the trainers and coaches who work with female athletes less than those who work with male athletes reflects a devaluation of women's athletics, which affects not just women, but men like Schlosser who work in women's athletics as well. On the other hand, the plaintiffs' had alleged that the existence of a "testosterone wall" that kept women from being considered for the more lucrative staff positions working with male athletes.  So women were additionally disadvantaged in that way as well.

Notably, this lawsuit was not the only one that alleged sex discrimination in Tennessee athletics back in 2012.  The other case, filed by the former Lady Vols media director who alleged she was squeezed out because of her sex when the University merged its men's and women's athletics department, had already settled in 2014 for $320,000.