Football Coach Exposes University to Lawsuit Liability

The recent actions of former head football coach Bobby Petrino may leave the University of Arkansas open to a sexual harassment lawsuit. Petrino was recently injured in a motorcycle accident and it surfaced that he was riding with 25-year-old Jessica Dorrell at the time. Dorrell is a staff member in the athletic department. Immediately after the accident, Petrino claimed he was by himself of the motorcycle.

It was revealed that Petrino and Doerrell were having an affair. Petrino is married. Their relationship lead to some questionable conduct, including Petrino paying Dorrell $20,000. Petrino hired Dorrell to her position on the staff—a position which had 159 applicants.

“Consensual sexual relationships between faculty and their students or between supervisors and their employers, in some instances, may result in charges of sexual harassment,” says the University of Arkansas’ policy.

This is certainly an instance where that type of lawsuit could be filed, although it has yet to happen. The university fired Petrino shortly after the accident. They were right to fire the prestigious head coach; he opened the university up to quite a mess by his reckless decisions.

“Anytime that you’re dealing with a supervisor-employee relationship, the difference in power between the supervisor and the employee that is supervised always calls into question what appears to be consensual really was consensual,” says Fayettevile attorney Charles Kester, who has filed sexual harassment claims against the University of Arkansas in the past.

Kesluk, Silverstein & Jacob—Los Angeles employment attorneys