Lawsuit Claiming Bias in Firing: Former Athletic Director vs. St. Francis

April 27, 2015 -Sacramento native, Kolleen “Koko” McNamee was recently banished from the St. Francis Catholic High School campus. Prior to her banishment, she was the athletic director. The school was her alma mater (as well as that of her three sisters and her aunt). She spent 11 years as the schools athletic director. She even had plans for her own three daughters to attend her beloved alma mater. She was a very unlikely candidate for banishment. 

McNamee was fired from her position as athletic director in August of 2012. A guard watched as she packed her few belongings and then she was escorted off campus. Later that year McNamee sued the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sacramento (the school’s owner), two former administrators, and one administrator still actively involved at the school. In her suit, McNamee claims she was subjected to gender discrimination as well as defamation and workplace retaliation. She filed suit in order to obtain monetary damages of an unspecified amount.

The diocese requested the lawsuit be thrown out. Federal Judge Morrison C. England, Jr rejected the request. As is the case in many such cases, there are multiple characters and numerous stories and details that can make determining what actually happened difficult. McNamee claims that she saw “ugly” behavior from the varsity basketball coach at the games. When she reported the behavior as inappropriate, is escalated into her being fired and banned from campus. The varsity basketball coach, Vic Pitton, still works at the school.

Pitton denies claims that he has been seen as exhibiting negative behavior, but his story conflicts with not only McNamee, but also the school’s principal who said that he was “removed” from his position because his behavior was contrary to how she wanted the school to be perceived. She described his behavior as volatile and mentioned that he would go into rages during the games, yell at the referees, etc. Other documentation supports this information from another leader at the school: Vice Principal Urhammer.

For more information on bias in firing, retaliation and other discrimination in the workplace, contact your southern California employment law experts at Blumenthal, Nordrehaug & Bhowmik.