|For Immediate Release
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New Ms. reveals high cost of gender inequity at a California state university--$14 million and counting!
Furious state senator now pushing bill to ensure equity.
The spring issue of Ms. magazine-on newsstands 4/29/08 - features the stunning account of how Fresno State University in California was successfully sued under Title IX for sex discrimination by three women who had been terminated from its athletic department.
In the first case, a jury awarded former volleyball coach Lindy Vivas $5.85 million. Fresno State then made an out-of-court settlement with former associate athletic director Diane Milutinovich for $3.5 million. In a third case, another jury awarded a whopping $19.1 million to ex-basketball coach Stacy Johnson-Klein. The judge later cut the jury awards to a total of about $11 million.
Fresno State has a long history of problems complying with Title IX, the law that outlaws sex discrimination in schools receiving federal funds. Among the revelations at the two trials was that male administrators in the athletic department celebrated a supposedly humorous "Ugly Women Athletes' Day".
Although the trials concluded last fall, the cases are still making news because the school has appealed the verdicts. Vivas and Johnson-Klein are earning interest on the damages for as long as they go unpaid-so if the verdicts are not overturned they'll gain another $1,000 a day.
The big-money awards have infuriated California State Sen. Dean Florez, who has held two hearings in Sacramento in which he lambasted the university's president, and the chancellor of the California State University system. Florez is pushing a bill to create an independent office of gender equity under the state's attorney general.
Note to editors: Senior editor Michele Kort, Fresno State litigants and their lawyers are available for interviews.