Spurned Legacies May Press Sorority Lawsuit
WASHINGTON (CN) - A federal judge dismissed all but one claim filed by two Alpha Kappa Alpha legacy candidates and their mothers who said the sorority blacklisted them for refusing to participate in unsanctioned hazing.
Sandra Compton and Lessie Cofield, along with their daughters Laurin Compton and Lauren Cofield, sued Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority (AKA) and Howard University in 2013, claiming that the sorority violated its bylaws and later tampered with witnesses.
According to their complaint, the younger Compton and Cofield pledged the sorority as legacy candidates, but were subjected to an unofficial hazing process.
"In 2010, AKA started an unofficial process that involved hazing candidates who wanted to participate in the Membership Intake Process during their sophomore years," explains U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer in her ruling. "Certain aspects of that process were relatively harmless: candidates were directed to avoid wearing pink and green, the official AKA colors, as well as colors that could be blended to make pink or green. But other aspects of the process were more injurious. For instance, candidates were 'commanded to contact random [S]oros daily at a certain hour on the minute, and if they failed to do so, the [candidates] would be forced to suffer and endure verbal abuse ... .' The Daughters also recount instances in which candidates were 'heckled, harangued, and humiliated ... in front of their peers,' 'mentally tormented by [S]oros,' and 'restricted from speaking with friends ... and warned not to report abuses.'"
Compton and Cofield said their daughters didn't participate in the unauthorized hazing and instead reported it, allegedly prompting the blowback from the sorority.
After they filed an initial lawsuit against the sorority and the school, the women claim that the sorority revoked Sandra Compton's membership privileges to harass her.
"While the Court found AKA's conduct to be wrongful, it decided that no sanction was appropriate because 'the effects of AKA's conduct would not have altered [the] decision to deny [preliminary injunctive] relief,'" the judge states in the ruling.
Judge Collyer dismissed the tortious interference claim against Howard University over the school's alleged limitation on how many legacy pledges the sorority could accept, ruling that the two pledges failed to state a claim because the school did not procure a breach.
The judge also agreed to dismiss the breach of contract, negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress claims against the sorority, but allowed the mothers' ultra vires act claims to stand, ruling that the sorority may have stripped the mothers of their membership to retaliate against them for filing a lawsuit.