Ex-Pep­per­dine play­ers lose suit

Women said they faced dis­crim­i­na­tion from coach be­cause they were dat­ing.

Los Angeles Times - - CITY & STATE - By An­drea Castillo and Matt Hamil­ton an­drea.castillo@la­times.com matt.hamil­ton@la­times.com

A jury ruled Fri­day against two for­mer play­ers on the Pep­per­dine Uni­ver­sity women’s bas­ket­ball team who said they faced dis­crim­i­na­tion from their coach in 2014 be­cause they were dat­ing.

The jury said there was not enough ev­i­dence to de­ter­mine that the uni­ver­sity tar­geted the plain­tiffs, Layana White and Ha­ley Videckis, based on their sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion.

But the case marked one of the first times that a dis­crim­i­na­tion claim based on sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion went to trial un­der the land­mark Ti­tle IX law. In 2015, a fed­eral judge in Cal­i­for­nia ruled that dis­crim­i­na­tion on the ba­sis of sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion falls un­der the purview of Ti­tle IX, giv­ing a broader in­ter­pre­ta­tion to the 1972 statute that pro­hibits sex dis­crim­i­na­tion in the na­tion’s schools and col­leges.

That rul­ing al­lowed White and Videckis to pro­ceed with their law­suit, al­leg­ing that the uni­ver­sity ha­rassed and dis­crim­i­nated against them be­cause they were dat­ing. Ac­cord­ing to the com­plaint, they said the coach wanted them off the team be­cause their les­bian re­la­tion­ship “would cause the team to lose games.”

Pep­per­dine had sought to dis­miss parts of the law­suit. The uni­ver­sity ar­gued in court pa­pers that Ti­tle IX does not cover claims based on sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion and that the al­le­ga­tions failed to meet the law’s stan­dard for gen­der stereo­type dis­crim­i­na­tion.

Videckis and White had said team staffers ques­tioned them about their sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion and sought ac­cess to their gy­ne­co­log­i­cal records, ac­cord­ing to the com­plaint. White, who had trans­ferred from the Uni­ver­sity of Ari­zona, also said Pep­per­dine of­fi­cials re­fused to process her NCAA ap­peal to play in the 2014 sea­son.

In court pa­pers, at­tor­neys for Pep­per­dine coun­tered that “the al­leged in­tru­sion” into the women’s per­sonal lives was un­true, that the coach’s ques­tions stemmed from a de­sire to im­prove team dy­nam­ics and that any neg­a­tive state­ments made about the ef­fect of two women dat­ing while play­ing on the same team were part of a de­sire to end off-court dis­trac­tions.

An­gela Dal­lara of Free­dom for All Amer­i­cans, a na­tional cam­paign to se­cure full nondis­crim­i­na­tion pro­tec­tions for LGBTQ peo­ple, said that de­spite the out­come, the legacy of the case is his­toric. The or­ga­ni­za­tion closely fol­lowed the trial.

“This im­por­tant prece­dent paves the way for ad­di­tional stu­dents to bring sim­i­lar cases for­ward in the fu­ture,” Dal­lara said.

Al Seib Los An­ge­les Times

A JURY said there was not enough ev­i­dence that Pep­per­dine Uni­ver­sity tar­geted two women on the bas­ket­ball team based on their sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion.

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