Attorneys for USC and Former AD Settle with Former Associate AD, Who Alleged Harassment

Feb 1, 2019

Attorneys for former University of Southern California (Cal State LA) Athletic Director Mike Garrett and the school have reached a settlement with a female associate AD, who claimed Garrett harassed her and other female employees. As part of the settlement, Dr. Sheila Hudson will receive $2.75 million.
The Claim
Dr. Sheila Hudson, a former track and field Olympian, was hired by Cal State LA in 2002 as head coach of the track and field program. She was promoted to associate athletic director by 2008. In January 2016, the relationship between Hudson and her employer soured.
“In violation of Cal State LA’s own posting requirements, Cal State did not provide the presumptive athletic director, Hudson, or others with the opportunity to apply for the athletic director’s position,” according to the plaintiff’s attorney, Nancy Abrolat. “Instead, the university actively recruited and hired controversial figure Mike Garrett as its athletic director.”
According to the lawsuit, Garrett, upon his hire, started calling the female employees working under him, including Hudson, “Babe,” “Sweetheart,” “Love,” and “Legs.” Garrett allegedly told at least one student employee, “I love you” and “I could kiss you.”
Abrolat further claimed that the University’s Human Resources department “justified Garrett’s conduct and warned Hudson against voicing her complaints.
“Hudson complained to university administrators about various gender and Title IX concerns, including gender pay inequity at the university. Cal State LA has paid virtually all female employees in the athletics department, including Hudson, less than their male counterparts in substantially similar positions, reports the suit. Hudson provided a pay equity report to correct these and other Title IX violations, but Cal State LA is claimed to have ignored the disparities, the lawsuit alleges. Hudson filed the lawsuit as a last resort to correct the pay inequity and to eradicate sexual harassment and gender discrimination from the University,” according to claims.
The lawsuit further alleges that “Cal State LA again ignored its own hiring policies when it appointed Garrett’s son, Daniel Garrett, as assistant athletic director in January 2016, and when Daryl Gross of Syracuse University-scandal fame was provided a contract guaranteeing four years of employment in July 2016 to replace Garrett as Athletic Director after just six months on the job.”
In a statement, Hudson said that “when Garrett and Gross were handed the athletics director position without allowing me or other highly qualified women to even apply for the job, I believe this to be an affront to women. When I first brought forth my concerns about harassment and gender discrimination, I did so alone and quietly, using the university’s internal processes. But it quickly became clear to me that these disturbing and discriminatory practices would continue as long as this remained behind closed doors. I believe the best way to bring about positive change is to stand up and speak the truth out loud, even if you’re afraid. That’s what I’m doing now.”
Garrett’s Motion to Dismiss
Garrett’s attorneys argued that Hudson targeted Garrett because she was embittered about not getting the job after Bridges retired in 2015. They also claimed that their client used “gender neutral terms of endearment” in addressing both men and women on his staff. In addition, the attorneys alleged that three of the women that Hudson claimed were harassed by Garrett said in interviews that they were not insulted by Garrett’s words.
Cal State LA’s Motion to Dismiss
In 2018, the university, moved to dismiss Hudson’s suit, claiming that Garrett “treated all staff, faculty and students with respect and dignity, regardless of gender.”
Further, it alleged that the plaintiff, “repeatedly refused the assistance and solutions provided by the defendants and, at times, impeded investigations by the defendants, choosing instead to create her own narrative of events.”
Attorneys for Cal State L.A. argued that the jobs were exempt from posting requirements and denied Hudson “was then, or is now, qualified for the athletic director position.”
“Moreover, the defendants are informed and believe … that the plaintiff knew when the athletic director position became available and she never expressed an interest in the position.”
The complaint is available at:
The Settlement
“This settlement is a compromise of disputed claims and is not an admission by any Party of any liability or wrongdoing,” according to the settlement. “The Parties specifically deny any wrongdoing of any kind whatsoever and the Parties enter into this Agreement to buy their peace and avoid the further costs of litigation.”
As part of the settlement, the four Cal State L.A. employees who accused Hudson of recording them without permission agreed not to pursue criminal charges.
In addition, the settlement requires Hudson to delete any social media posts referencing the litigation and bars her from applying for jobs at any California State University.
The media has reported that Hudson received a check for $1.27 million, while Abrolat Law received $1.47 million.


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