After Dismissing Her Own Federal Lawsuit, Coach Files Complaint with the EEOC

May 8, 2009

The former women’s basketball coach at Texas Southern University has voluntarily dismissed her federal lawsuit against the school, opting instead last month to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Todd Slobin, a Partner at Shellist Lazarz LLP, confirmed the decision to Sports Litigation Alert, promising that he still planned to “vigorously pursue” the claims of his client, Surina Dixon, who alleges that the school discriminated against her on the basis of her gender as well as retaliated against her when it terminated her contract.
Dixon was hired in March 2008 by interim athletic director Johnnie Cole and school president John Rudley. She was subsequently fired a few months later by new athletic director Charles McClelland.
She sued in September of 2008, alleging that the school retaliated against her when she complained about gender discrimination and advocated for gender equity. She further claimed that she was offered a one-year contract at $75,000, while the new men’s basketball coach, Tony Harvey, was given a five-year contract at $150,000 a year. In addition, Dixon claimed that she agreed to a four-year contract, which was allegedly changed by McClelland to a one-year deal.
In an interview with a local television station in Houston, Dixon said she believed she was fired “because I questioned the terms of the contract, the years, the salary, which were a huge gender difference and because I was questioning those things, I think that I was terminated based on sex discrimination and retaliation.”
In the original lawsuit, Dixon sought “equitable relief, back pay and front pay, compensatory damages, attorney’s fees, expert witness fees, taxable court costs, pre-judgment and post-judgment interest.”


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