Shannon Miller v. U of M Board of Regents case begins jury trial - KBJR 6 Your Weather Authority: News, Weather & Sports

Shannon Miller v. U of M Board of Regents case begins jury trial

Posted: Updated:

Former University of Minnesota Duluth Women's Hockey Coach Shannon Miller's case against her former employers is about to be in the hands of a jury.

Starting tomorrow, her claims of discrimination, which the university denies will go to trial in a federal courthouse in Duluth more than three years after the university cut ties with Miller after 16 seasons. 

According to Miller and her attorney, Dan Seigel, UMD chose not to renew her contract because she was a woman and because she consistently fought against unequal treatment among women in UMD athletics.

"We have lots of evidence of unequal treatment. We have lots of evidence regarding Shannon complaining about that unequal treatment. We have the university changing its story at least twice regarding the reasons for her termination," Siegel said.

The UMD has denied those claims since the beginning.

According to university spokeswoman, Lynne Williams, the decision came down to Miller's recent performance, a financial analysis and what was best for the students.

"Looking at all of those factors and the University decided it was time to make a change in the leadership of our women's hockey team," she said.

Miller filed the original suit back in September of 2015 alongside two other former coaches, Jen Banford and Annette Wiles. 

Judge Patrick Schiltz heard the claims from all three plaintiff's and UMD's attorneys in October of 2017.

In February, Judge Patrick Schiltz ruled in favor of UMD's motion to dismiss Wiles' and Banford's claims. 

Now one plaintiff and two claims remain and it will be up to the jury to decide.

"We'll have a series of witnesses who will be able to testify about the behavior of UMD and it's impact on women in the athletic department," Siegel said.

Some of those witnesses include former Chancellor Kathryn Martin, who hired Miller and a number of former women's hockey players, while the jury will also hear from UMD's current Chancellor Lendley Black and the athletic director Josh Berlo, who were in charge when Miller's contract was not renewed.

"We've taken it to trial because we believe we can win that and we can make that case to the jury," Williams said.

Tuesday, the case moves forward with jury selection, and we're expecting to hear opening statements from both sides that afternoon.

The trial is expected to last until next March 14.

Miller, Banford and Wiles also allege the university discriminated against them for their sexual orientation,but as that is not a federally protected identity in the private sector, those claims need to go to state court if they were to move forward. 

Powered by Frankly