An academic counselor in the men’s athletics department filed suit against the University on Monday alleging discrimination based on his sexual orientation and a disability.
Doctors diagnosed Richard Marsden, an openly gay employee in the department for 15 years, with severe depression and told him he could not return to his job until the environment improved, said his attorney Judith Schermer. She said Marsden has been away from his job for more than eight months because of the “homophobic” environment.
The complaint, filed in Hennepin County District Court, states that the University discriminated against Marsden by “creating and condoning a hostile and oppressive work environment … and failing to afford him a reasonable accommodation for his disability.”
Officials from the department could not be reached for comment. University General Counsel Mark Rotenberg was also not available for comment.
Because Marsden is openly gay, Schermer said he was excluded from meetings with athletes in locker rooms and was made to stay in his own room on road trips while others were paired up.
The complaint also states that the University retaliated against Marsden after he filed a complaint about his treatment. Schermer said the University is alleging they paid him too much in disability benefits and will take the money out of future payments.
This is the third lawsuit Schermer has brought against the University. The first was also a case in which a University employee claimed he was discriminated against because of his depression. Schermer filed the second suit last month alleging discrimination against members of the Chinese language program.
“I don’t want to spend all my time litigating against the University,” she said. “But at the same time, I’m a taxpayer and I’m concerned.”