The University of Cincinnati has settled a lawsuit with a former volleyball player who said she was kicked off the team for posting Instagram photos that were “too sexy.”
According to Cincinnati.com, UC agreed to pay Shalom Ifeanyi $40,000 as part of the settlement, but the school refrained from admitting any wrongdoing.
Ifeanyi sued UC back in March, alleging racial discrimination, sex discrimination, sexual harassment and retaliation. She also claimed that she didn’t fit the “biased image” of a UC volleyball player. As part of her settlement, Ifeanyi has agreed to drop all claims against the school, dismiss the lawsuit and remain ineligible for reapplication to UC.
The trouble between coach Molly Alvey and Ifeanyi began last summer. Referring to one of Ifeanyi’s Instagram posts at a meeting, Alvey told Ifeanyi, “When football players see this, what do you think they see? They see your breasts. It’s seductive.” Alvey then asked Ifeanyi to delete the photo.
Alvey continued to harass Ifeanyi about the photos, telling her they were “too sexy.” Ifeanyi said that other members of the team who were “of slighter build and of lighter complexion” were not reprimanded for their Instagram photos, even those taken in bikinis.
Ifeanyi eventually deleted the photos but maintained it was unfair. “There’s a history of black women because of their bodies being sexualized and that’s what appears to be happening to me,” she wrote in a text to Alvey. “I can’t help the way I’m built. I am not trying to argue, I just feel like I have to be flat chested or real skinny in order to post.”
Ifeanyi continued to train with the team and was eventually awarded top performer of the week by the team’s strength coach, but Alvey let Ifeanyi go not long after, citing “different philosophies.”
In the months since the lawsuit was filed, more than 26,045 individuals signed a Care2 petition demanding UC fire Alvey.