A former assistant football coach is suing the athletic department of a prominent university, according to local business news. Paul Ferrero, a former defensive coordinator for the University of Central Florida’s Knights, is suing the university for breach of contract after alleging that head coach George O’Leary created a hostile work environment. The school is striking back, saying Ferrero’s claims are baseless.
According to the suit, Ferrero was hired in December of last year to his position and was fired only a few months later after bringing his concerns to the attention of the human resources department at UCF. Ferrero alleged that O’Leary constantly criticized his work and the work of other staff members, and that the coach used slurs against African Americans and Jewish workers. Ferrero also claimed O’Leary was discriminatory towards his own Italian heritage.
UCF administrators say they looked into the claims and found them to be without merit, and they have further claimed that Ferrero “abandoned” his job. Ferrero maintains he was issued a termination letter. When asked why it took him so long to file a suit, Ferrero has responded that he wished to settle the matter out of court to preserve the public integrity of the team.
A hostile work environment, particularly one based in racist speech, is unconscionable in modern Florida. However, further investigation will be required to determine whether Ferrero’s breach of contract suit will result in UCF compensating him for the loss of his position. Evidence of wrongdoing on the part of the head coach will be necessary if the court is to rule in favor of the former assistant.
Source: USA Today, “Former assistant sues UCF for breach of contract“, Kyle Hightower, Sept. 30, 2014