The former woman’s basketball coach for San Diego State University — Beth Burns — has recently sued the school for wrongful termination. According to Burns, she was fired just nine weeks after signing a five-year long contract extension. She says that she was fired for constantly asking the school to treat women’s and men’s basketball equally.
Burns claims that while the school has more female sporting teams, the men’s and women’s basketball teams are not treated equally. She claims that coach turnover, housing, equipment, staff and academic support all put the women basketball program at a disadvantage.
In the wrongful termination suit, Burns is asking for $880,000 — the amount owed to her under the contract she had signed before her termination. She is also asking for punitive damages for being unable to find a job. Burns claims that she had another coaching position lined up, but the deal fell through after, she claims, SDSU officials called the new school.
SDSU, on the other hand, claims that Burns was given the options of retirement, termination or resignation following an incident in Feb. 2013. In Feb. 2013, Burns was seen physically assaulting another member of the coaching staff during a basketball game. Burns says the actions during that game were just an “unintentional response” and a cover-up for the real reason the school wanted her gone. SDSU has not responded to the new wrongful termination suit.
Under employment laws, it is illegal for California employers to fire employees for complaining about illegal activity. Employees should not fear for their jobs because they have the courage to speak up. Those employees who have faced wrongful termination after acting as a whistleblower may be entitled to damages.
Source: U-T San Diego, “Burns files wrongful termination claim,” Mark Zeigler, Oct. 14, 2013