Law Offices of Louis Spitters

Student hazing ends with a coach's alleged wrongful termination

A small Catholic high school football coach says that he was shocked at the reaction he received after reporting hazing problems that endangered his students. The California man claims that after he reported the incidents, he suffered a wrongful termination at the hands of his principal. According to the coach, he discovered that there was hazing going on right before Christmas in 2012 and decided to report it to prevent future harm.

The plaintiff claims he overheard freshman players complaining that his assistant did nothing to help them after the older players were harassing the younger ones as part of the hazing. Some of the activities allegedly included physical harm. The coach asserts that he reported the situation to Child Protective Services, but they referred him to the school. He allegedly reported the incident to the principal and mentioned wanting to also alert the police.

According to his complaint, the principal was angered by his suggestions and had told him to remove himself from the situation. After an investigation the plaintiff was terminated, and five of the players involved in the hazing were expelled. The plaintiff contends that he blew the whistle on the situation to help his players but was punished instead.

The coach filed a claim against the Catholic Diocese in California for his wrongful termination. He stated that because of this incident, his reputation will be tarnished. The school contends that the safety of its children is key and that the plaintiff was responsible for the students during the time that the incident took place. If the lawsuit rules in favor of the coach, he may be awarded monetary damages for the emotional duress he suffered, lost income and benefits, as well as any other financial remedies the court deems appropriate.

Source: The Sacramento Bee, "Football coach who reported hazing scandal 'blown away' over firing", Andy Furillo, Feb. 26, 2015

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