Wrongful Termination

Texas Tech football coach, Mike Leach, might sue the university for wrongful termination. Leach claims that his dismissal was in violation of his contract and was made without due process. Leach’s suspension was attributable to several unfair decisions that he made involving his football players. In particular, he has been criticized for his decision to isolate Adam James, a sophomore receiver, in an equipment garage during team practice. At the time, James was recuperating after a concussion that Leach allegedly failed to acknowledge. James went on to report that he was deeply embarrassed for being punished for his football-related injury, and that Leach treated him extremely unfairly. After this incident, Leach refused to apologize to James and claimed that the university never gave him the opportunity to tell his side of the story.

Texas Tech alleviated its necessity to pay Leach by firing him “for cause.” Ultimately, this “for cause” component leaves Texas Tech free from an obligation to compensate Leach and continue his contract. Nonetheless, Leach could file a wrongful termination lawsuit against the university by claiming that his actions did not violate any of the stipulations listed in his contract. Leach could also come to argue that his suspension was too early and impulsive of Texas Tech. On the other hand, the university could contend that Leach violated player safety rules, which is noted in his contract. Thus, if Leach is found to have violated these safety regulations, then the “for cause” suspension will be justified. In effect, there might be a big “legal showdown” between Leach and Texas Tech. It is also likely that James will sue Leach for his unjustified punishment and humiliation.

There are termination policies that can potentially protect employers, like Texas Tech, from claims of wrongful termination. As an employer, it is important to have an established termination policy and to document all events that relate to each termination process. There are several forms to fill out and activities to execute within the termination process. When an employment relationship ends, there are numerous types of separation that can occur. In this case, Mike Leach was fired, which is an involuntary termination of an employment relationship. Fundamentally, there is no procedure that guarantees employer autonomy from wrongful discharge liability or the prevention of an employee filing a wrongful discharge action. Therefore, it is important for an employer, like Texas Tech, to consider seeking out labor law counsel before terminating an employee.