LATEST NORTH SMITHFIELD DISCRIMINATIONCASE RESOLVED
The ACLU of Rhode Island has settled a discrimination complaint against the Town of North Smithfield on behalf of Thomas Bourgeois, who was denied appointment as a school coach last year solely because of his gender.
The settlement, agreed to by the town school committee at a meeting last night, resolved an administrative complaint filed by the ACLU in December with the R.I. Commission on Human Rights. The complaint, filed by volunteer attorney Lynette Labinger, alleged that last February, Mr. Bourgeois was passed over for selection to serve as the North Smithfield Junior High girls’ softball coach solely so that a woman could be hired for the position instead.
After Bourgeois applied for the position, he was told he was the only candidate. In addition, his name appeared as the recommended candidate on the advance agenda for the School Committee meeting. On the night of the meeting, however, his name was struck out, and that of a woman written in his place. When the school superintendent, who is no longer employed by the district, was asked to explain his actions at a school committee meeting the next month, he stated that he believed that a woman should be appointed to the position, and that he had searched out a woman candidate, instead of recommending Bourgeois, for that reason.
At the time Bourgeois was denied the appointment on the stated basis of his sex, North Smithfield employed other men as coaches and assistant coaches for girls’ sports. Bourgeois had ten years’ experience coaching softball in the town’s Little League program when he applied for the school position.
Last night, the school committee unanimously voted to appoint Bourgeois to the coach’s position. In settlement of the case, the ACLU agreed to waive its entitlement to attorneys’ fees. RI ACLU executive director Steven Brown said today: “I am pleased that this matter has been resolved, and that Mr. Bourgeois will be able to start coaching in a job for which he is eminently qualified.”
The settlement follows on the heels of the ACLU’s closure of its successful lawsuit last year against the Town when it attempted to hire as the municipal fire department the all-male, all-white private fire rescue service serving North Smithfield.
I decided to pick this case because it hit close to home. This case proves the men can be easily discriminated like women. A man who was over qualified for the position, and the only one who applied for the job was denied strictly by gender. Most people would look for money in this kind of case, but Bourgeois was just looking for justice. Most coaches coach for money, and winning seasons, where as he was coaching for the love of the game, and wanted to turn around North Smithfield Softball. In compensation, Mr. Bourgeois was guaranteed the job the following season, where he served as head coach for the next 4 years. He then got offered, and received the job as head Varsity coach for North Smithfield where he accepted. He is still the coach there, and in 2011 he received Coach of the Year.