Tarnished Twenty- The FindLaw Sports Law Blog

Lawsuit: Girls Soccer Coach Wrongfully Fired for Gender Discrimination Complaint

Most instances of gender discrimination and sexual harassment go unreported. And those that do are too often treated as "he said, she said" cases. Take, for instance, the matter of Teri Collins and the Long Beach Unified School District. Collins claims she endured years of gender discrimination and sexual harassment, and her firing was retaliation for complaining about her treatment. The school district says Collins was dismissed because she cyber-bullied a student athlete on Instagram, threatened referees in front of students, and called one pupil a "little B-word."

And Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Frederick Shaller says it's up to a jury to decide who to believe.

She Made the Claims

According to her lawsuit, Collins was a model educator and coach at Long Beach Poly High School. Since her tenure began in 1999, "Poly's soccer program enjoyed unprecedented success," including six Moore League championships, and every senior who played in her program enrolled in college after graduating. She's the winningest girls' soccer coach in school history, and was selected as the Press-Telegram's "Dream Team Coach of the Year" in 2012.

Still, Collins argues she "had to fight the district's administration and athletic department that consistently prioritized male leadership and boys' sports" over girls' programs. Her lawsuit claims she was outspoken about this disparate treatment, as well as her own treatment by the chairman of the school's physical education department, who she accuses of sexually harassment, including physical threats and targeting her with demeaning and humiliating language in front of students.

She May Have a Case

While the school district attempted to get Collins' suit dismissed, claiming there were no legal issues for a jury to resolve, Judge Shaller disagreed. And although he did not seem confident in the strength of her case, allowing that the district's attorney already presented arguments strong enough to perhaps "erode maybe all of the plaintiff's claims" at trial, he nevertheless allowed the suit to proceed.

Trial is set for this May.

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