Monday, November 24, 2008

Former Iowa State Coach Wins $287K in Retaliation Suit

An Iowa state trial court jury awarded $287,000 in damages Friday to former Iowa State softball coach, Ruth Crowe. Crowe had challenged her termination as unlawful retaliation under Title IX, claiming she was fired for complaining to about inequitable compensation for most coaches in women's sports and about the university's failure to allocate comparable money for recruiting female athletes compared to male athletes.

The university claimed that Crowe was not fired in retaliation, but because of her overall losing record and due to athletes' and parents' complaints. The jury must have been persuased that the athletic department used her losing record as an excuse to fire Crowe. Moreover, Crowe testified that she was not aware of the complaints against her until after she filed her lawsuit. Perhaps this testimony cast doubt in the jury's mind about the legitimacy of Iowa State's reliance on those complaints as a basis to fire her. By not giving Crowe the opportunity to respond, address, or defend herself against the complaints, athletic department officials may have appeared as though it had already made up their minds to fire Crowe.

The jury's verdict awarded amounted to $90,000 in back pay, $160,000 for past emotional distress and $37,000 for future distress from her improper firing. Additionally, equitable remedies such as reinstantement could be forthcoming. And, according to Crowe's lawyer, the judge in the case could order Iowa State to conduct a Title IX compliance audit and to make improvements to the school's softball facilities.