When Katie Brenny, a Little Falls native and former state high school golf champion, took a job at the University of Minnesota, she thought she was going to coach the women’s golf team. When that didn’t happen, she called a lawyer who is now threatening a lawsuit.
According to Brenny’s attorney, things changed about a week after she started the job. Golf director John Harris, who oversees the university’s golf program, installed his son-in-law to coach the women’s team. Brenny alleges Harris changed his mind because he learned she was a lesbian.
State law prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation.
The university denies the charges, but apparently is negotiating a settlement with Brenny’s attorney, Donald Chance Mark. “The university’s doing everything possible to avoid any unnecessary lawsuit,” said the university general counsel.
That’s probably a good move. Mark recently won a million-dollar judgment against the university in a lawsuit filed by former assistant basketball coach Jimmy Williams.
Mark has been fighting Brenny’s case in the media. He told reporters that the position requires a bachelor’s degree. The new coach doesn’t have one. Brenny does, having graduated from Wake Forest University, where she was a standout for the Demon Deacons’ nationally ranked women’s team. Mark has set no deadline for negotiations, but he made it clear he will file suit if no settlement is in sight.
Note: Nepotistic hirings make great targets for plaintiffs’ attorneys. If you hire an employee’s family member, be prepared to show the person is qualified for the position.