The sexual harassment lawsuit against Anson Dorrance, women’s soccer coach for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is headed to trial after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case.
The lawsuit by former player Melissa Jennings dates back to 1998, when she sued Dorrance for allegedly grilling players about their sex lives and making inappropriate comments about their bodies.
The decision puts the case back before U.S. District Judge N. Carlton Tilley Jr., in Greensboro. He dismissed the lawsuit in 2004. The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals resurrected it earlier this year, saying Jennings deserved a chance to make her case before a jury.
Dorrance has admitted engaging in sexual banter of a “jesting or teasing nature” with players.
Final note: So how do managers draw the line between jesting and sexual harassment? The answer is, they don’t. Harassment is in the eye of the beholder. Once a behavior offends someone, it crosses the line into a potentially hostile environment. The safest bet is to keep a professional environment and a politically correct sense of humor.