Three female wrestlers have sued USA Wrestling, alleging that the national governing body (NGB) for the sport “failed or refused to comply with certain membership requirements” set forth by the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act and certain bylaws.
The suit, characterized by plaintiff’s attorney Edward G. Williams of Stewart Occhipinti, LLP as a ”Section 10 Complaint,” was filed in spite of the fact that the plaintiffs – Sara McMann, Patricia Miranda and Randi Miller – had not exhausted all of administrative remedies available to them through the NGB.
“One may not file a ‘Section 10 Complaint’ until after the exhaustion of remedies available within the NGB, unless a showing can be made that the pursuit of such remedies will result in ‘unnecessary delay,” Williams said.
He added that “a grievance with USA Wrestling was filed over 100 days ago (on July 15, 2009). Notwithstanding repeated requests to USA Wrestling to move forward with the consideration of their grievance, either by mediation or a hearing before the USA Wrestling Board, as is called for in the wrestling bylaws, USA Wrestling has refused to mediate or schedule a hearing.”
At the heart dispute is the plaintiffs’ belief that they are being discriminated against on the basis of their gender. With this in mind, they have requested, among other things, that USA Wrestling:
• Create a Gender Equity Committee, which will become “a permanent, internal oversight committee with the responsibility and authority” to hold the NGB’s leadership accountable for ensuring that female wrestlers get the necessary support they need to succeed in the sport.
• Create an Equality Coaching Caliber Review to make sure that female athlete have the same caliber of coaches as the men. As part of this request, the plaintiffs also request that the current coaching staff be put under “immediate review.”
• Institute Compensation for Unjust Sanctions if there is way to “monetarily” measure inappropriate sanctions that “have been taken against female wrestlers. As an example, the plaintiffs point specifically to the fact that “international tour funding” was withheld from female national team members for not attending national team camps, while no similar sanction was applied against male national team members.