Friday, December 21, 2012

VCU Backs Discriminatory Firing of Gay Coach

In what is beginning to feel like deja vue of the Moore v. Virginia Museum of Natural History case from a few years back where Michael Moore was fired for being gay, Virginia Commonwealth University ("VCU") is backing the firing of women’s volleyball coach James Finley (pictured above), claiming that the firing was not discriminatory. Both the Virginian Pilot and the Richmond Times Dispatch are carrying coverage of VCU's disturbing statement.  Candidly, I have seen first hand in the Moore case how Virginia agencies conduct their internal reviews of anti-gay actions by bigoted personnel and the contortions and gyrations that are engaged in to avoid a finding of discrimination are unbelievable.  Inconvenient and contradictory facts are ignored and, in my opinion, obvious lies are swept under the rug.  Anything and everything will be done to avoid a confirmation of anti-gay bigotry.  The situation is so bad that these internal reviews are akin to the Catholic Church hierarchy denying that a case of sexual abuse by priests exists absent a video tape of a child being raped by a priest on the church altar. Here are highlights from the Times Dispatch piece:

Virginia Commonwealth University has completed an internal investigation into the firing of women’s volleyball coach James Finley and determined that the action was founded.

“The Office of Institutional Equity’s exhaustive investigation confirmed that the employment decision was made in accordance with VCU policies and not as the result of any discriminatory action by our athletic director,” VCU President Michael Rao said in a statement emailed to university employees Thursday and then posted on the school’s web site.

Finley was fired in November after completing a 25-6 season. He claimed he was fired because he is openly gay, but VCU Athletic Director Ed McLaughlin denied that.

The internal investigation ends VCU’s look into the matter, and the school has already begun a search for a new coach.
I suspect that the only thing "exhaustive" about the investigation is the effort that went into concocting a story to back up VCU's athletic director's action.   Where does this leave Finley?  Under Virginia law, there are few options.  He can file a complaint under the state employee grievance procedure but truth be told, the Department of Human Resource Management from what I saw in the Moore case, DHRM will go to even greater lengths to avoid finding against a state agency even though it claims "does not advocate for employees or management, but, rather, provides impartial services to assist in the resolution of workplace disputes."  In my opinion, that statement is about as true as much of what came out of the old Soviet Politburo. 

Should Finley consider a state court lawsuit, there is nothing in Virginia statutory law that grants him a shred of meaningful protection.  As for mealy mouthed Executive Directive 1 (2010) signed by Bob "Taliban Bob" McDonnell after Ken "Kookinelli" Cuccinelli created an uproar when he advised Virginia's colleges and universities that the inclusion of sexual their non-discrimination policies was improper, an Executive Directive holds less weight that an Executive order such as the one involved in the Moore matter.  Thus, Executive Directive 1 (2010) is little more than window dressing signed by McDonnell to quell a political firestorm. 

This leaves Finley with a possible lawsuit in federal court under an equal protection or due process claim since ENDA continues to go nowhere in Congress.  Should that course be pursued, Finley will find himself in the 4th Circuit, perhaps the most conservative in the nation, and likely facing an uphill battle.  In sum, it is not a pretty picture, but such is life for LGBT Virginians who face constant religious based discrimination notwithstanding the laughable promise of freedom from religious discrimination under both the Virginia and U. S. Constitutions.  Hence why I recommend that gays considering a move to Virginia rethink the situation.

1 comment:

kelly caldwell said...

How depressing. I currently face issues at work because I'm gay, and this makes me realize that there is nothing I can do about it... except move.