Olympian Scorches Cal State LA as Sexist

     LOS ANGELES (CN) — A former Olympian sued Cal State Los Angeles, demanding it promote her to athletic director, a post vacated by football hero Mike Garrett, whom she also sued, accusing him of bullying, sexist behavior.
     Cal State LA senior associate athletic director Sheila Hudson accuses the college and Garrett of a host of Labor Code violations in her Aug. 19 complaint in Superior Court. She claims Garrett repeatedly used inappropriate, sexist terms to address female employees and athletes and bullied and retaliated against anyone who protested.
     “Immediately upon hire, Garrett began calling the women in the Athletics Department, including plaintiff, degrading, sexist names, such as, ‘Sweetheart,’ ‘Love,’ and ‘Babe,’ and one particular woman: ‘Legs.’ Garrett told one student assistant ‘I love you’ and ‘I could kiss you,'” Hudson says in the complaint.
     When she and others objected and complained to the university, officials avoided taking action, and when she complained to Garrett directly, he “exploded at” her, Hudson says.
     “He yelled, amongst other things, that he has always called women these names — including at USC — and they have never complained. Feeling intimidated by this attack, plaintiff returned to her office, only to have Garrett chase after her, storm into her office and continue to berate her.”
     Hudson asks the court, among other things, to order the university “to place plaintiff in the athletic director position.”
     Cal State LA attorneys at Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart say that women hold most of the top leadership posts at the university.
     “This malicious complaint is a reckless compilation of exaggerations and fabrications. It is without substance and will be repudiated by facts,” the firm said in a statement.
     Hudson’s attorney, Nancy Abrolat, could not be reached for comment Tuesday. But in a statement she called the lawsuit “a last resort to correct the pay inequity and to eradicate sexual harassment and gender discrimination from the university.”
     Hudson, a former national champion triple jumper, competed in the 1996 Olympics. She joined the Cal State athletic department in 2002 and became associate athletics director in 2006. She also earned a Ph.D. in education at the school.
     Garrett won the 1965 Heisman Trophy as a USC running back and played pro football for eight years with the Kansas City Chiefs and San Diego Chargers. He earned a law degree and worked in business before returning to USC in 1993 as athletic director. In that role, he strengthened the Trojan football program, but was fired in 2010 after the NCAA sanctioned the school.
     Cal State hired Garrett and his son this January and immediately gave them preferential treatment, Hudson says. She says it hired Garrett without posting the job, and hired his son for “a new position as assistant athletic director with no stated responsibilities.”
     But that’s not all, Hudson says, in the detailed, 22-page complaint.
     “The president’s office instituted a new policy for Garrett and his son, whereby neither Garrett nor his son should be charged off for any sick or vacation pay when they are absent. Instead, Garrett and his son were permitted to come and go as they please with no impact on their compensation.”
     She says Garrett’s son reported directly to her, and she reported directly to Garrett, in violation of the school’s anti-nepotism policy. “Garrett is essentially computer illiterate,” she adds, which “severely hampers” his ability to do his job. She says it was apparent “immediately upon hire … that Garrett lacks the skills needed for the athletic director position.”
     After six months as athletics director, Garrett became executive director of intercollegiate athletics, a fund-raising role, according to Hudson.
     He was replaced as AD by Daryl Gross, who left a similar post at Syracuse University after that school was sanctioned by the NCAA.
     Hudson claims the school hired Gross, like Garrett, without posting the position, and “first and foremost” because “they are men.”
     She says she submitted a lengthy report to the school showing that women in the athletic department are paid less than men, and the school retaliated by investigating her.
     She seeks compensatory and punitive damages for violations of the California Equal Pay Act, the Family Leave Rights Act, the Fair Employment and Housing Act, Title IX, retaliation and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
     She also wants the university ordered to stop discriminating against female employees generally, ordered to make her the athletic director, plus attorney’s fees and costs of suit.

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