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Friday, December 14, 2007

Ind. Decisions - 7th Circuit rules in IUPUI women's tennis coach discimiination suit

In Debbie A. Peirick v. IUPUI (SD Ind., Judge McKinney), a 28-page opinion, Judge Williams writes:

During Debbie Peirick’s thirteenth and final year as head coach of the women’s tennis team at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), her team maintained the highest grade point average of all athletic teams, achieved its best season in history, and, for the first time, qualified for the NCAA tournament. Despite this record, Peirick, then age fifty-three, was fired when the season ended. Within a month of her termination, IUPUI hired the twenty-three year old sister of the men’s tennis coach to coach the women’s tennis team.

Peirick sued IUPUI, the IUPUI Athletics Department, and the Board of Trustees of Indiana University, claiming that her termination was motivated by gender and age. The district court granted summary judgment for the defendants on both claims. Material questions of fact exist as to whether Peirick was treated less favorably than her similarly situated male counterparts, so we vacate the grant of summary judgment on her gender discrimination claim. However, because IUPUI and the Board of Trustees of Indiana University are immune from suit under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (and the athletic department is not a suable entity separate from the university), we affirm the grant of summary judgment on Peirick’s age discrimination claim. * * *

For the foregoing reasons, we VACATE the award of summary judgment in favor of IUPUI and the Board of Trustees of Indiana University on Peirick’s gender discrimination claim. However, in light of IUPUI’s and the Board’s Eleventh Amendment immunity, we AFFIRM the grant of summary judgment in their favor on Peirick’s claim of age discrimination.

On the second point, the opinion cites Kimel v. Fla. Bd. of Regents, 528 U.S. 62, 91 (2000) on p. 23. Note that Kimel was also cited in a recent COA opinion, Michael B. Montgomery v. The Board of Trustees of Purdue University (4/7/05 IndCtApp), summarized in this April 7, 2005 ILB entry (3rd case).

Posted by Marcia Oddi on December 14, 2007 11:09 AM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions