The San Diego law firm C L Ludmer filed a multi-million dollar age-discrimination and harassment case against the University of Southern California and its Senior Women’s Administrator, Donna Heinel, on July 25, 2018 with the American Abritration Association.
The Arbitration Complaint, filed on behalf the former USC Women’s Volleyball Coach, Mick Haley, alleges that USC was harrassed and ultimately fired because of his age after going 25-10 in 2017 while reaching the Elite 8 of the NCAA Tournament where they lost to Florida in 5 sets.
The complaint also individually names Donna Heinel, the Senior Women’s Administrator. It alleges that she personally engaged in an unlawful campaign to harass Haley due to his age. Haley, 74, feels that USC was attempting to force him to “retire.” The alleged harassment included artificial attempts to limit his roster, interfere with his coaching, lack of support, subjecting him to contrived and unfair criticism, violating California law and USC’s own internal policies with respect to performance evaluations, repeatedly demanding that he “retire” even before his contract expired, referring to him as being in his “twilight years,” “archaic,” and “old,” and expressing a desire for a younger coach.
“USC’s employment practices perpetuate the ‘You’re too old to work’ culture that seems to dominate so many of our companies and institutions,” said Chris Ludmer, Haley’s attorney. “Studies show that almost every aspect of job performance improves as we age. The superior performance of older employees makes the discrimination against them in the workplace completely nonsensical, as well as illegal. One only has to look at the Mick Haley case to see that USC isn’t interested in the law or in winning, but rather in creating a ‘culture of youth’ that does a disservice to its student athletes, its employees and its loyal alumni and boosters.”
USC has issued the following statement regarding the issue, “We are aware that Mick Haley filed a demand for arbitration today and we are reviewing it.”
It was announced the Haley “will not return” after the 2017 season. He led the team to a 435-119 (.785) record in his 17 seasons from 2001-2017, including winning NCAA Championships in 2002 and 2003. The Trojans also made 6 NCAA Final Four appearances and 17 consecutive NCAA appearances. He was named the 2003 AVCA Division I Coach of the Year after leading the team to a perfect 35-0 record, including an NCAA title. He also won a pair of NCAA Championships with Texas when he was the head coach from 1980-1996.
USC hired Brent Crouch as their head coach back in January. Crouch spent the previous 4 seasons as the head coach at the University of Portland. He is also credited with helping establish the varsity beach program at Portland in 2016.