Former Swimming Coach Sues Notre Dame for Gender Discrimination

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Photo Courtesy: MICHAEL MILLER

Former Swimming Coach Sues Notre Dame for Gender Discrimination

April Jensen, the former associate head coach for Notre Dame’s swimming and diving team, is suing the university, alleging gender discrimination.

The case centers on Jensen’s treatment in 2019 when she was coaching while pregnant before maternity leave. She alleges that her supervisor, head coach Mike Litzinger, ignored her during meets, criticized her work and made comments pertaining to her pregnancy that created an “intolerable” work environment.

Jensen received a different coaching assignment when she returned from maternity leave, which she believed was a demotion due to her time away. Despite being the sprinters coach, Jensen contends that she wasn’t allowed to coach that group during practices.

Further, Jensen alleges that time used to pump breastmilk away from deck during practices was held against her.

Jensen returned to work but took a leave in January 2020 due to health-related complications from her pregnancy. She reported incidents to the university in February and March but was informed that her contract would not be renewed. From the filing:

“Despite the fact that her termination was allegedly three years in the making, Coach Jensen had received no write ups or performance improvement plans regarding the alleged relationships outside of the team she failed to establish.”

Jensen spent five years on staff at Notre Dame, two as an assistant coach and three as an associate head coach. Her hiring predates Liztinger’s by a year. The university declined to comment in a request by the local ABC affiliate, ABC57.

The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court Northern District of Indiana, is seeking lost wages and compensatory damages. Jensen is alleging violations of her rights under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, the Equal Pay Act and Title IX, and the Family and Medical Leave Act. Jensen also alleges that she was paid more than $20,000 less than a male occupying the same role.