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Florida Gators’ athletics sued by former employee over alleged racial discrimination

A former football support staffer accuses the department of a “hostile work environment of overt racism.”
The Florida Gators' athletic department has been accused of racial discrimination by a former football support staff member.
The Florida Gators' athletic department has been accused of racial discrimination by a former football support staff member. [ Tampa Bay Times ]
Published Dec. 3, 2020|Updated Dec. 3, 2020

A former member of the Florida Gators’ football support staff has sued the University Athletic Association, alleging he was discriminated against because he is Black.

In a suit filed this week in the U.S. District Court’s Northern District of Florida, Otis Yelverton alleges four main, broad examples of racial discrimination during his year and a half as the Gators’ assistant athletic director of player personnel:

· He was underpaid compared to white people who previously held that position.

· He was passed over for promotions because of his race.

· He was “subjected to an open and obvious hostile work environment of overt racism” in the athletic department.

· His race was “the determining factor” in his dismissal.

That dismissal came in the spring of 2019, as he faced a felony complaint of aggravated stalking. Authorities alleged that he threatened to blow up his ex-girlfriend’s car and tried to contact her 40 times after she attempted to cut off communication. The State Attorney’s Office dismissed the case because of “insufficient evidence to sustain a conviction.”

The suit also said that Black employees in the athletic department “try to be unobtrusive and never complain about racial discrimination experienced on the job out of a well-founded fear of being fired by the UAA or blackballed, or both.” It does not specifically cite examples or evidence to corroborate his allegations.

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“We are in receipt of the complaint and disagree with the assertions made,” Gators spokesman Steve McClain said. “We will respond accordingly.”

Yelverton filed a charge of discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity in March, according to the suit. His attorney, N. Albert Bacharach, Jr., did not immediately return a request for comment.

Yelverton is listed as the head coach at Contra Costa College. He is seeking monetary damages, including back pay and punitive damages for the athletic department’s “discriminatory practices.”

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