By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Former Ole Miss sports media assistant Jason D’Abramo sued the university Tuesday, saying he was fired because of a non-sexual relationship with a female basketball player of another race.
D’Abramo, who is white, was the Ole Miss Athletics Department’s assistant media relations director until June 30, 2010.
His lawsuit said that “had there been no interracial relationship,” a progressive discipline policy would have been followed, which means he would not have been fired without a warning from his supervisor.
The lawsuit, filed by attorneys Jim Waide and Shane McLaughlin of Tupelo, claims D’Abramo “has suffered lost income and mental anxiety” from his termination, as well as damage to his reputation.
They are asking for actual damages, lost income, moving expenses and damages for mental anxiety and stress.
They also ask for a jury trial, attorneys’ fees and his reinstatement.
Lee Tyner, attorney for the university, said Thursday that since he had not seen the allegations in the complaint, “I am not in a position to respond at this time.”
But he noted that D’Abramo had filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the EEOC terminated its process without making any finding of discrimination.
The lawsuit also names as a defendant the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning, which governs the eight public universities.
D’Abramo now lives in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
The lawsuit alleges that university athletics officials confronted D’Abramo on Feb. 19, 2010, about a rumor that he “was dating a female student athlete.” He also allegedly was told he could not work with the women’s basketball games.
Despite an in-house investigation that reportedly showed no sexual harassment in the pair’s friendship, D’Abramo insists his resignation was requested in April 2010 and then when he disagreed, he was fired effective June 30.
His attorneys claim that while the university discourages non-faculty personnel from dating student athletes, it does not prohibit friendships.
Contact Patsy R. Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or firstname.lastname@example.org.