MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The University of Minnesota on Tuesday settled a lawsuit with an employee who claimed the school's athletic department created a hostile and homophobic working environment.
The university agreed to pay Richard Marsden $80,000, provide him with a parking spot and help him upgrade his job title. The agreement came one day after Marsden testified in Hennepin County District Court that he was the victim of anti-gay jokes, salary discrimination and inappropriate grabbing.
Marsden claimed the university did nothing to change a hostile working environment in its athletic department, where he worked in the mid-1990s. Marsden, who is gay, had a nervous breakdown in 1997 and went on medical leave from his position as academic adviser in the athletic department.
He is currently working in an entry-level advising position at the university that pays $20,000 less than the position he held as academic adviser in the athletic department until 1997.
The university admitted no wrongdoing.
''We still believe the evidence would show the university did not discriminate against Mr. Marsden,'' said university associate general counsel Jeffrey Vigil. ''It's always prudent to think about settlement. It's over and it's appropriate that both sides move on.''
Marsden's attorney, Judith Schermer, said the settlement ''sends a message that the university discriminated.''
''You don't pay $80,000 if you didn't discriminate,'' she said.
Marsden said he felt vindicated.
''I'm glad it's done,'' he said. ''I'm looking forward to going back to work tomorrow.''
Among his complaints, Marsden testified that sometime after 1993, after his sexual orientation was common knowledge, assistant hockey coach Bill Butters twice told him it would be inappropriate for Marsden to be in the men's student-athlete locker room. Butters told him he had deep religious convictions against homosexuality, Marsden said.
On another occasion, men's gymnastics coach Fred Roethlisberger told Marsden that his proclamation of June as gay pride month on a board in his office was inappropriate, Marsden said.
The $80,000 settlement includes $30,000 for attorney's fees and $30,000 to pay off Marsden's bankruptcy debt. Another $20,000 restores his salary to what it was in the athletic department.
He will pay the same rate for a parking spot that he had paid in his previous position. The university agreed to help him get a senior adviser title, which Schermer said should help him get a better job.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.