Fifth former employee sues Newman University

WICHTA, Kan. (AP) — A former Newman University volleyball coach has become the fifth ex-employee to sue the Catholic university in recent months.

Destiny Clark filed a federal lawsuit Thursday alleging that the private school and its athletic director retaliated against her, paid her less than promised and routinely placed her volleyball team at a lower priority than other teams, The Wichita Eagle reported .

All five of the former employees who have sued Newman allege unfair termination or treatment. Three, including Clark, mention Title IX complaints and allege the school retaliated during the investigations.

School spokesman Clark Schafer said Clark's claims were without merit. The school has denied wrongdoing in each case.

When the university hired Clark as its volleyball coach in May 2015, she was to be paid a $37,000 salary and was promised a strength coaching position and $20,000 in additional pay, according to the lawsuit. But the school instead hired men — at least one of whom was less qualified than Clark — as strength coaches, the lawsuit said.

Clark said that when she asked Athletic Director Victor Trilli to honor the promise, he "laughed in Ms. Clark's face and offered her a $2,000 stipend," which was 10 times less than the agreed-upon pay and what the male strength coaches ultimately made, according to her lawsuit.

"Ms. Clark, as the volleyball head coach, was paid less than all other head coaches at Newman who performed work substantially equal in skill, effort, and responsibility, and who had the same or substantially similar conditions of work," the suit alleges.

She said the school put her team at a lower priority when scheduling practices and failed to stop a men's basketball player who repeatedly interrupted volleyball practices, sexually harassed volleyball players and refused to leave the gym when asked. Clark sought a restraining order from a Sedgwick County judge after a confrontation with the player turned physical.

Clark left Newman to become an assistant coach at Providence College, Schafer confirmed. Her resignation was effective July 16.

"Newman University investigated the allegations made by Ms. Clark, both before and after her voluntary resignation," Schafer said in an email statement. "It was determined that there was no evidence to support her claim that Newman, or any employee listed in the lawsuit as a defendant violated the law."

Schafer said the university has anti-discrimination and anti-retaliation policies and has complied with all state and federal laws.

Former human resources director Mandy Greenfield, who led the investigation into Clark's Title IX complaint, sued the school in December, contending she was fired for whistleblowing. John Walker, who helped investigate Clark's Title IX complaint, sued over his firing in January. Two other former employees have filed against the university during the past eight months.

Newman University has about 1,800 graduate and undergraduate students.


Information from: The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle,