A federal district court jury in Los Angeles has ruled against two lesbian former players at Pepperdine University who said they faced a pattern of harassment and discrimination from their coach because they were gay and were dating.
“The jury said there was not enough evidence to determine that the university targeted the plaintiffs, Layana White and Haley Videckis, based on their sexual orientation,” the L.A. Times reported.
“Videckis and White had said team staffers questioned them about their sexual orientation and sought access to their gynecological records, according to the complaint. White, who had transferred from the University of Arizona, also said Pepperdine officials refused to process her NCAA appeal to play in the 2014 season.
“In court papers, attorneys for Pepperdine countered that ‘the alleged intrusion’ into the women’s personal lives was untrue, that the coach’s questions stemmed from a desire to improve team dynamics and that any negative statements made about the effect of two women dating while playing on the same team were part of a desire to end off-court distraction.”
Despite the loss, a spokeswoman for the LGBT rights group Freedom for All Americans, argued that the fact that the two women’s lawsuit was allowed to proceed was precedent-setting. Angela Dallara, the group's Director of External Communications, said in an email to Outsports:
“Although the outcome is not what the plaintiffs had hoped for,” the legacy of this case is palpable: it marked one of the first times that a claim of discrimination based on sexual orientation as prohibited by Title IX underwent a full trial — emphasizing the increasing legal consensus that federal laws protecting Americans from discrimination based on sex also extend to protection based on LGBTQ identity.
“Judge Dean Pregerson issued a first-of-its-kind order in December 2015 allowing the lawsuit to proceed with the Title IX claims of sexual orientation discrimination, writing ‘Sexual orientation discrimination is not a category distinct from sex or gender discrimination.’ This important precedent paves the way for additional students to bring similar cases forward in the future.”
There were 75 witnesses called in the 16-day trial, including Ryan Weisenberg, who coached the women during the period covered in the lawsuit. Weisenberg was fired in March after four years, where his record with the Waves was 28-94.
White and Videckis are engaged to be married and live in Los Angeles. Outsports reached out for comment and has not received any as of the time this story was published.