Lige Stewardson, a former assistant track and cross-country coach for the men's and women's track program at Texas A&M University-Kingsville, filed a federal lawsuit in Corpus Christi against the school on Thursday for gender discrimination and retaliation based on her complaints under Title VII and Title IX.
The lawsuit alleges that the sequence of events that led to Stewardson's dismissal began on February 21, 2012, when she e-mailed Dr. John Burnett, the school's Director of Compliance, and David Scott Gines, the school's Vice President for Institutional Advancement, to report an incident between assistant (track) coach Harold Nair and track athlete Ashley Nunez.
Stewardson's e-mail alleges Nair called Nunez a "bitch" and "worthless." In the email, Stewardson also reported violations of Title VII and Title IX.
In her lawsuit, Stewardson claims that 12 days after she sent the e-mail. the school's Athletics Director, Kenneth Oliver, and head track coach Ryan Dall, retaliated against her because she complained of discrimination.
Specifically, according to the lawsuit, Oliver spoke down to Stewardson and yelled at her, and told her that she failed to go through the "chain of command" (when she made her complaints of discrimination).
Stewardson was then reprimanded for various insignificant items, such as allegedly not picking up enough trash and for missing a meeting. According to the lawsuit, when Stewardson asked Dall why she was being disciplined, he told her that she should not report "stuff."
On April 27, Stewardson filed a Charge of Discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Texas Workforce Commission-Civil Rights Division.
On May 15, Stewardson was terminated.
Stewardson alleges: "Texas A&M-Kingsville, acting by and through its agents and employees, intentionally engaged in gender discrimination and retaliation" in violation of the state laws of Texas on gender discrimination and Title IX.
Stewardson seeks equitable relief, back pay and front pay, compensatory damages, and a number of costs related to litigation, including attorney's fees. She is asking for a trial by jury.