Injured Football Player to Return to Towson University - Higher Education

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Injured Football Player to Return to Towson University

by Eric Freedman

Towson University must allow a football player to return to the team after a successful liver transplant and an “amazing recovery,” a federal judge in Maryland has ruled.

The university’s refusal to let Gavin Class rejoin the team under its “return to play” policy violates the Americans with Disabilities Act and Rehabilitation Act, U.S. District Judge Richard Bennett said.

In 2013, Class collapsed from heat stroke during practice and suffered liver failure, requiring a transplant and two years of “long and arduous” rehabilitation. His physicians, who specialize in liver diseases, and independent specialists in heat stroke cleared him to play if we wears protective padding, but the team physician, who “has no expertise in liver illness or heat injury,” refused.

Class has already obtained the type of padding that some other players also use.

Bennett found that the requested accommodations to allow use of protective padding and use of a core temperature monitoring system are reasonable and said there was no proof to support the team physician’s concerns about a possible “sudden and dramatic change in Class’s condition.” Class was allowed to take part in some spring training, but the injunction entitles Class “to return to active status as a full participant in its football program.”

He also found no evidence for the concerns expressed by Towson’s athletic director about “team focus and morale arising from the accommodations requested by Class,” saying, “There is no basis to find that these ‘concerns’ would constitute an undue burden on the university.”

The decision didn’t address the issue of NCAA eligibility rulings unrelated to Class’s medical condition.

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A federal judge in Florida has rejected a marital status and gender discrimination suit accusing a community college of wrongfully refusing to renew the contract of a high-level administrator who was in a same-sex marriage.

The College of Central Florida provided nondiscriminatory reasons for failing to renew the year-to-year contract of Vice President for Instructional Affairs Dr. Barbara Burrows, then paying her a lower salary as a fixed-term faculty member and eventually terminating her in a budget-related reduction-in-force, U.S. District Judge James Moody Jr. ruled.

In 2008 she joined the College of Central Florida after serving as provost of Marshalltown Community College in Iowa, where she had married. She became the subject of complaints about her performance, management style and interaction with staff and faculty.

In 2011, the college declined to renew her $113,558-a-year contract and replaced her with a male subordinate who previously had been an unsuccessful candidate for the position. Burrows accepted a transfer to a math teaching position that paid $52,000 plus supplemental amounts for additional duties. In response to a serious budget problem in 2013, the college eliminated 11 full-time positions, including Burrows’, according to the decision.

The suit alleged gender, gender stereotyping and marital status discrimination and retaliation.

In dismissing the claims, Moody found no evidence that the college’s former president was aware of Burrows’ same-sex marriage and said Burrows failed to demonstrate that the college’s proffered reasons for its actions, including the contract non-renewal setting her faculty salary, were a pretext for discrimination.

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Metropolitan State University of Denver has won dismissal of a racial discrimination and retaliation suit by an African-American ex-employee who resigned from her job,

In 2007, Metro State hired Angelia McGowan as assistant director of communications under its “Target of Opportunity” Program that gives expedited consideration to job candidates from underrepresented minority groups and with less review of other competing applicants. McGowan claims that, when she was hired, an associate vice president emphasized the university’s priority on increasing Latino student enrollment, creating the impression that a Latino candidate would be preferred.

In 2009, the associate vice president started having concerns about McGowan’s performance, and she was reassigned with the same title and salary but a different supervisor. A White man was hired for her former position.

Also in 2009, supervisors thought McGowan was responsible for an anonymous letter to the university president alleging discrimination and harassment against an African-American female employee.

Her next performance reviews were mediocre, according to the decision.

She attributed her 2011 resignation to criticism of her performance, interference with a medical leave request and the university’s “failure to resolve her mistreatment,” the decision said.

Her suit alleged racial discrimination and a hostile work environment under Title VII and retaliation.

In his decision, U.S. Judge William Martinez found insufficient evidence of a racially based hostile workplace, saying a single conversation with a superior at the time of hiring wasn’t serious enough to hold the university liable.

McGowan also failed to demonstrate any “adverse employment actions” showing racial discrimination, Martinez said, and the transfer in job duties wasn’t demotion.

Similarly, there was no “causal connection” shown between complaints she made or her medical leave application and any significant adverse employment actions, the judge held.

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