A pair of former University of Delaware volleyball coaches will be granted a trial after a judge ruled they had “sufficiently” demonstrated they were discriminated against by virtue of age, sexual orientation and marital status.
UD had filed a motion to dismiss a complaint by head volleyball coach Bonnie Kenny and associate head coach Cindy Gregory, who have been married since 2013 and were both fired by the university in October 2016. U.S. District Court Judge Richard G. Andrews had ruled on UD’s behalf in granting a motion to dismiss Kenny’s and Gregory’s allegations that a violation of due process occurred.
According to a report from Delaware Online, Kenny and Gregory contend that they were fired without cause, but the ruling indicated that the firing was acceptable, as Kenny was paid through the end of her contract in June 2020 and Gregory didn’t have such protections in her contract.
Plaintiffs' attorney David Williams nonetheless argues that Kenny and Gregory were wrongfully terminated.
“Even if there’s a right to terminate a contract without cause, you can’t have an unlawful motive,” Williams said. “That’s what the case is about at this point. Did the university have an unlawful motive? ... You can’t terminate for a discriminatory reason.”
The original complaint asserted that Kenny was the fourth gay female coach over the age of 50 “forced out” by UD in recent years.
The case will now move into the discovery phase, which could take six to eight months.
“The fundamental underlying claims are there — discrimination, age, marital status, sexual orientation and Equal Protection, which is a constitutional claim that is also an assertion of a violation of those rights based on a discriminatory motive,” Williams said. “We’ll have an opportunity now to gather the facts to support our case and we’re looking forward to that.”