Just days before a lawsuit against Binghamton University was set to go to trial, administrators agreed to pay a $160,000 settlement to former women’s basketball assistant coach Elizabeth Naumovski.
The lawsuit, which was filed in 2011, came after Naumovski was fired from her position at the University in March 2010 for “performance” issues, according to lawsuit documents. Naumovski alleged she was a victim of sexual discrimination during her employment at BU. She sought $3 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages.
The settlement comes months after Pipe Dream reported that BU saw four cases alleging discrimination that were resolved with violations or corrective changes by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights between Jan. 20, 2015 and May 2, 2018. In her initial lawsuit, Naumovski filed seven claims of harassment against the University, but four were thrown out during the course of litigation.
In a statement to Pipe Dream, Ryan Yarosh, senior director of media and public relations at BU, said the University is “satisfied with the outcome and the closure it brings to this case.”
Naumovski could not be reached for comment.
Naumovski, who is now the head women’s basketball coach at Queens College, said she suffered both physical and emotional harm as a result of a hostile work environment sustained by colleagues’ rumors that she was in a relationship with an adult female student, according to court documents. She claimed the rumors began in January 2009, roughly five months after she began working for the University, and quickly escalated. Under provisions established in 1993 in the University’s Faculty-Staff Handbook, all faculty-student relationships “when the faculty member is in a direct supervisory role with that student, [shall] normally be deemed unprofessional conduct.”
Court documents contend that the rumors were “perpetuated by employees of Binghamton University,” including former athletic director Jim Norris and former women’s basketball head coach Nicole Scholl, who failed to put a halt to the allegations, despite Naumovski’s complaints. She said University employees treated her differently in front of students, and, according to court documents, an anonymous letter was sent to the family of the female student, describing her alleged relationship with Naumovski in “highly inflammatory and discriminatory terms.”
Naumovski testified that she felt the letter influenced her termination from the University. Following the sudden loss of her job, Naumovski also testified that she had difficulty finding employment, receiving a position at Queens College in August 2011 more than a year after her departure from BU and after she “applied for and was not offered three assistant coach positions at three other colleges.”
Prior to coaching at BU, Naumovski coached at the University of Toronto between 1999 and 2003 and served as the head coach of U17 Ontario Provincial Team during the 2004-05 academic year.