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Failure to give notice of termination: fired coach wins on appeal

At the professional level, the cliché about coaches is that they are hired to be fired. The pressure to win is often incredibly intense, and sometimes teams looking to make a change just eat the salaries of coaches still under contract - paying them even after relieving them of their duties.

Wrongful termination, however, can occur at any level of the coaching ranks. And that certainly includes the college or university level.

In this post, we will discuss a recent case in which a court has found that a university failed to give a football coach proper notice before firing him from his job.

This particular wrongful termination case is from Louisiana. But it is the type of case that could occur in California or anywhere else in the country. Indeed, failure to give notice is something that could happen in any industry - not just college football.

The Louisiana case began in 1999, when the University of Louisiana hired a new coach under a four-year contract. The team won only one game in 2000, though, and only three in 2001.

The coach was fired immediately after the end of the 2001 season. He brought suit against the school, however, alleging not only breach of contract but racial discrimination. The coach’s wrongful termination suit also alleged the tort of intentional infliction of emotional distress, as well as tortuous inference.

In addition to the school, the athletic director and the school’s board of supervisors were named as defendants.

In 2005, a judge ruled for the coach and awarded him damages of slightly more than $2 million.

An appeals court reversed this ruling and the fired coach dropped the athletic director as a defendant. A lower court then found for the school, but an appeals court reversed.

The appeals court held that the school failed to give the coach 30 days notice of his termination, as required by the contract. It will now be up to the lower court to determine the proper amount of damages for the coach from the breach of contract.

Source: Courthouse News Service, "Fired Football Coach Eyes Damages in Louisiana," Jeff D. Gorman, Feb. 14, 2014

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Law Offices of Allan A. Sigel, P.C.

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