3 Female Ex-Coaches File Discrimination Lawsuit Against UMD
Discrimination Lawsuit Filed Against UMD
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Former University of Minnesota Duluth women’s hockey coach Shannon Miller, former softball coach Jen Banford and former women’s basketball coach Annette Wiles are suing the University of Minnesota’s Board of Regents, citing a culture of discrimination at UMD.
The suit, filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis, alleges the UMD Athletic Department, and specifically Athletic Director Josh Berlo, discriminated against the coaches on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, age, and in the cases of Miller and Banford, who also served as Director of Women’s Hockey Operations, nationality.
“My entire staff were women, my entire staff were gay, and my entire staff, the coaches, were all from Canada,” said Miller, who was the only one of the coaches to speak Monday. “The way [Berlo] communicated with me about my staff, it was clear that he wasn’t that comfortable with the fact we were all gay and he wasn’t that comfortable with the fact we were all from Canada.”
“Mr. Berlo seems to be one of these equal opportunity bigots and has been on the record on numerous occasions making comments reflecting his feelings that there are too many Canadians in Duluth,” added Dan Siegel, attorney for the coaches.
Berlo didn’t comment Monday, however UMD chancellor Dr. Lendley Black did. The chancellor says while he’s disappointed the matter is now in the courts, he is confident the school will be cleared of the allegations.
“I have every confidence in the decision we made and i’m also confident that through the course of the legal proceedings, that will be made very clear,” said Black. “UMD has a very strong commitment to diversity and inclusion. We have a very strong commitment to a positive campus community environment.”
The coaches have requested the case be heard by a jury, though no trial date has been set yet.