Thursday, March 24, 2011

Auburn can’t catch a break: New suit against Athletic Dept alleges racial discrimination

mdal From John Zenor, AP Correspondent covering Alabama, Auburn and SEC Sports, comes this report. Auburn, it seems, just can’t catch its breath before something else comes out regarding its athletic department, the school’s boosters and alumni, its hallowed trees at Toomer’s Corner or players accused of criminal wrongdoing.

Zenor explains that Auburn University has been sued by nine former employees for racial discrimination. The case is called Chandler et al vs. Auburn University, case #3:11-cv-00218-TFM. It’s been assigned to Terry F. Moorer, US Magistrate Judge for the District Court of Middle Alabama.

Complaints filed in cases like this always go a little heavy on the accusation of wrongdoing, and this one is no different.  According to Zenor:

"All plaintiffs aver that the race discrimination practiced against them has been systematic, endemic and reflective of a long-term practice of intentional race discrimination practiced by defendant Auburn University against black employees, especially in the Athletic Department," the suit states.

It alleges discrimination against them in receiving promotions and in their pay level compared to white employees, who also allegedly were allowed more overtime than black employees. But the complaints also range from a receptionist not forwarding email to a black employee and the allocation of football tickets.

A federal lawsuit under the Equal Employment Opportunity Act is a very serious matter. In order for such a suit to proceed in Federal Court, the plaintiffs have to file their complaint first with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC then makes a determination as to whether the plaintiffs have a likelihood of prevailing based on its review of the allegations and evidence.

The plaintiffs filed their complaint in June of last year and were cleared to file their litigation before the case was placed on the docket today.

I honestly don’t recall the defending national champions ever having to deal with such a constant flow of bad news. They’re only two months removed from beating Oregon in the BCS National Championship Game, and they’ve had five players kicked off the team for serious legal transgressions. They had a crazed, rogue Bama fan commit attempted herbicide on the two ancient, revered oaks at Toomer’s Corner. Two graduates and one booster stand trial in federal court on bribery and conspiracy charges. The NCAA is actively investigating the school’s recruitment practices, and now this.

Good heavens, what could possibly go wrong next?  I’m a diehard Bama fan and I haven’t pulled many punches in my coverage of AuburnGate. But I don’t hate. Remember, I picked them as the darkhorse contender in the SEC west before Kirk Herbstreit made it fashionable to do so, and I also picked them to beat Oregon in the BCSCG. But at this point, my sense of Schadenfreude is starting to make me feel a little guilty.

Nahh. ;)

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