Former University of Montana strength coach, Scott Kirchmann, is claiming that his contract was not renewed because he complained that a female staff member was being sexually harassed and because of health issues related to a neck injury.
Kirchmann did what we would all want our co-workers to do: he reported that a female training staff member was being subjected to derogatory, sexually explicit and demeaning jokes at the hands of another trainer. Kirchmann reported the harassment to Jean Gee, who was the assistant athletic director at the time. By all objective measures this was the correct thing to do. However, the next day he was told that his contract was not going to be renewed. Kirchmann’s contract had always been renewed since 2008, and he had had a positive review one month earlier.
In California, it is unlawful for an employer to fire, demote, discriminate or retaliate against an employee whose conduct is in a protected category including “whistle blowing.” Thus, if a person opposes or makes public any illegal action of an employer, including reporting sexual harassment, the employer cannot adversely alter the conditions of that person’s employment. Wrongful termination lawyers in Santa Ana can help if you believe that your employer is retaliating against you for whistle blowing.
Kirchmann went on medical leave to have surgery on his neck shortly after being told that his contract was not going to be renewed, but with several months remaining in his contract. In January he told the university that he would be able to return to work on Feb 1. But Kirchmann was advised on Jan 31 that he was being placed on administrative leave until the end of his contract period. At the time of his first complaint, Kirchmann believed that he was being placed on leave because of a perceived disability related to his neck injury and the fact that his son had needed heart surgery in December. Kirchmann attests that was able to work during this time.
Federal law protects against employment discrimination based on an employee’s medical condition. Medical discrimination can include the hiring, firing and promotion decisions made by an employer based on incorrect assumptions about what the employee can and cannot do. Consult with wrongful termination lawyers in Santa Ana if you believe you were fired because of a medical condition when you were still able to work.
In May, Kirchmann amended his complaint to allege the non-renewal was retaliatory for his harassment report. The amendment came only two-weeks after it was reported that someone had filed a federal sexual harassment claim against the U of M football program.
Speaking on behalf of the university, Kevin McRae, the Associate Commissioner for Higher Education for Communications and Human Resources, denies the allegations. He believes the university acted “responsibly” and that the evidence will support this claim. He cites the two differing stories in Kirchmann’s complaints and insists that the university is blameless no matter which story Kirchmann uses.
Wrongful termination claims can come in many varieties and depend on the type of employment agreement one has with their employer. In Kirchmann’s case, he was under contract and would need to either show that the university breached the terms of his contract or that they discriminated against him because he fell into in a category protected by law. To help evaluate your wrongful termination claim, call a wrongful termination lawyer in Santa Ana (http://www.employmentlawlawyers.com/wrongful-termination-lawyer-santa-ana/); they can help.