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Bryant Whitten, LLP

Prominent California swim coach sued for wrongful termination

A former swimming coach and employee of a California swim club recently sued the club and its head coach for wrongful termination. The employee claims that she was fired because she repeatedly reported instances of inappropriate behavior on the part of a volunteer assistant coach to the head coach. The employee was concerned about the assistant coach's behavior toward children. She says that she discussed her concerns with the head coach on many occasions, and his response was to terminate her employment.

The woman says she is not suing for the money, but rather to make a sea change in the culture of swimming. The woman who is suing has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to swimming-related causes over the years, she says, including $100,000 to USA Swimming and $400,000 to build a high school pool in Carmel, California.

USA Swimming said it is reviewing the complaint against the head coach and the swim club. A spokesperson for USA Swimming said that the organization cannot comment on its investigation, other than the fact that it immediately notifies the employing swim club when it launches its investigation. The Amateur Sports Act states that a swim club's membership cannot be suspended or revoked without first conducting a hearing. Employment decisions during investigations are decided by the employing swim club.

Wrongful termination cases can be very fact-intensive. Consequently, it is critical that employees retain copies of employment contracts, hiring letters, employee handbooks and performance evaluations. Employees who have been fired for opposing illegal activity in the workplace should contact an experienced employment attorney for an evaluation of their case.

Source: Associated Press, "Mark Schubert faces lawsuit," Sept. 17, 2012

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