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The Daily News of Los Angeles
Occidental College's gay former athletic director is suing the university, alleging she was fired in retaliation for complaining that she was the victim of gender and sexual orientation discrimination.
Occidental College's gay former athletic director is suing the university, alleging she was fired this summer in retaliation for complaining to the school's president that she was the victim of gender and sexual orientation discrimination.
Jaime Hoffman's Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit names as defendants the college and Occidental President Jonathan Veitch. Her additional allegations include harassment and both intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress.
An Occidental representative did not immediately reply to a request for comment on the complaint, which was filed Monday and seeks unspecified damages.
"Occidental College, a liberal arts college known for the progressive ideology of its famous former student, President Obama, boasts of equity as one of the four cornerstones of it mission..." the opening paragraph of the 63-page suit reads. "Sadly, the college does not live (up to) this value."
The school's true tradition, according to Hoffman's suit, "is one of silencing outspoken women who use their voices to make the school a safer place and one of integrity. Plaintiff Jaime Hoffman is one of those women."
Hoffman was hired as Occidental's women's head basketball coach in July 2005, named interim athletic director in 2007 and given the permanent job six months later by Veitch's predecessor.
Occidental "flourished" under Hoffman's leadership and she played an important role in the school's fundraising, but she became concerned about Veitch's alleged lack of candor in telling donors about changes in how money would be spent, according to her court papers.
"Plaintiff repeatedly requested that Veitch, for the sake of Oxy's credibility, either keep the promises or inform donors of the change," the suit said. But Veitch refused, despite knowing the adverse effect his decision would have on the school and on Hoffman's reputation, according to the complaint.
Although the decision to fire popular longtime Occidental football coach Dale Widolff in 2012 in the wake of a NCAA investigation into alleged recruiting violations was a joint decision among Hoffman, Veitch and the university's Board of Trustees, Veitch portrayed the action as the plaintiff's, subjecting her to scapegoating and abuse from the football community, the lawsuit alleges.
The plaintiff claims Occidental did nothing when postings on the school website concerning Hoffman called her a "dyke" and a "witch." Veitch, after hearing Hoffman's complaints about sexist and homophobic harassment after the Widolff firing, told the plaintiff, "C'mon, Jaime, let's not Monday-morning quarterback," the suit said.
The school's football program faltered after the Widolff firing, especially in recruiting, and Veitch blamed the problem on Hoffman, according to her suit.
When Hoffman addressed the football team after a decision to cancel a game in September 2017 because of a small number of eligible players, some members of the team began swearing at her and asked her such questions as "What do you know about football?" the suit said.
Concerned about her family's safety in the wake of the meeting with the players and a verbal attack that occurred while she was at home with her partner and babysitter, Hoffman moved her family to a new location more than 30 miles away, the suit said.
Hoffman went on leave because of emotional distress in the fall of 2017 and attempted to return to work in July, the suit said. However, Hoffman was notified by telephone by Occidental human resources management in August that she was being fired and that Veitch made the decision, according to her court papers.
"Following plaintiff's termination, multiple (Occidental) female coaches quit without alternative employment in place rather than remain in the sexist and hostile Occidental Athletic Departmentwork environment allowed to fester under Veitch's reign," the suit said.
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