Thursday, February 01, 2018

Community College Coaches Challenge Gender Pay Disparity

Three female coaches in California recently filed a lawsuit against the State Center Community College District to challenge gender discrimination in pay and job responsibilities that affect them as coaches at colleges operated by the District. One of the plaintiffs, Rhonda Williams, is head coach of the Fresno City College women's softball team and assistant coach of its golf team, while two others, Kathleen Kuball and Shannon Jeffries, coach at Reedley College in softball and volleyball respectively. They allege that while they have comparable or even more job responsibilities than their male counterparts, they are paid less because the District calculates compensation based on the number of "duty days" each coach is assigned and then assigning female coaches fewer duty days. They allege that this practice is a part of an overall pattern of discrimination against the women's sports programs in the District. The complaint alleges that this discrimination affects female athletes as well, and that it constitutes a violation of Title IX as well as state law.

These coaches join a growing list of others who have used Title IX and other related law (state law, Equal Pay Act, Title VII) to challenge discriminatory conditions in their employment. In fact, it was other coaches from Fresno -- at nearby Fresno State -- whose famously successful lawsuits in 2006-2007 kicked off what appears to the current trend of coaches going to court to fight for equality. Today, sex discrimination lawsuits filed by coaches are more common than those filed by athletes (probably because coaches incur more economic damages and hold their jobs for longer than students are athletes). Often, however, these lawsuits expose discriminatory practices that affect athletes and can lead to systemic change.