2 students seek $1 million in college discrimination lawsuit
OLYMPIA, Wash. — Two students have filed a discrimination lawsuit against The Evergreen State College and its former women’s basketball coach Jennifer Schooler.
A complaint for damages was filed by ShaMarica Scott and Linda Wilson, both of Olympia, on Oct. 13 in U.S District Court’s Western Washington district in Tacoma, The Olympian reported.
In June, the women’s attorney, Ada Wong with AKW Law of Mountlake Terrace, filed a prerequisite tort claim that stated the women are claiming damages of $500,000 each.
Scott and Wilson are seeking damages for “intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress and racial and sexual orientation discrimination,” according to the most recent court documents.
Schooler, who took over the women’s basketball program at Evergreen in 2014, cited personal reasons when she resigned in December.
When asked by the newspaper about the lawsuit, college spokesman Zach Powers said that “the college conducted an investigation and took appropriate action.”
Scott was on the women’s basketball team during the 2014-15 school year and “endured racially based discrimination, epithets, intimidation and public humiliation” from Schooler, according to the claim.
It states that the coach used the term “ghetto” and employed race-baiting tactics to motivate her team with statements such as “If you think that white students feel intimidated by black players, they don’t.”
The lawsuit also claims on multiple occasions, Schooler harassed Scott about the woman she was dating and made offensive remarks about her Gay Pride T-shirt.
The court documents include a copy of the college’s report from an internal investigation into Scott’s complaints by the college’s affirmative action and equal opportunity officer Lorie Mastin.
In the May 2016 report, Mastin wrote that her investigation found that Schooler more likely than not violated the college’s non-discrimination policy with her use of “racial derogatory language.” However, Mastin’s investigation did not find sex-based discrimination and harassment related to Scott’s other claims.
The second plaintiff, Wilson, played on the women’s basketball team during the 2015-16 school year.
During a November 2015 meeting, Schooler pressured Wilson to hold players who were dating teammates accountable by telling them that their actions negatively affected the entire team, court documents state.
“Defendant Schooler also leveraged Plaintiff Wilson’s tuition waiver and scholarship funding if Wilson did not comply,” the complaint states. “The constant pressure to broadcast details of her teammates’ private lives in exchange for an athletic scholarship or tuition waiver was more than Plaintiff Wilson could handle, leaving her with no choice but to resign from the team.”
The college’s internal investigation into Wilson’s claim found that Schooler’s actions more likely than not violated the college’s non-discrimination and sexual harassment policies.