Three former coaches at the University of Minnesota Duluth are asking the state Supreme Court to take up their lawsuit against the university.
Women’s hockey coach Shannon Miller, softball coach Jen Banford and women’s basketball coach Annette Wiles have alleged “discrimination and a hostile work environment as a result of being a lesbian female, and retaliation for bringing discriminatory conduct based on sex and sexual orientation to the attention of UMD administration,” reads the petition to the high court.
In September the state appeals court agreed with a lower court’s decision to dismiss the case. Judge Renee L. Worke wrote that the case was brought too late to be tried, among other issues. Lawyers for the university cheered the decision and said at the time the case “lacked merit.”
Lawyers for the coaches argue the court can look past the statute of limitations.
“Courts must be flexible and avoid mechanical rules and archaic rigidity, as the ultimate goal is to relieve hardships,” they wrote in the petition filed Thursday.
The coaches first sued the university in federal court in 2015, and when several state-law claims were dismissed in 2018, they brought them in state court. The allegations include violations of the state’s equal pay law and the state whistleblower law.
In the federal lawsuit, Miller recently accepted a reduced monetary award. The university was considering its options at the time of that decision earlier this week.