Virginia Tech football player MAY sue school for benching her after refusing to take knee
A former Virginia Tech women’s soccer player can officially sue the school’s coach for benching her after she refused to take a knee during a social justice protest, a federal judge has ruled.
Virginia Western District Judge Thomas Cullen ruled Dec. 2 that coach Charles ‘Chugger’ Adair may have violated Kiersten Hening’s First Amendment rights for refusing to participate in the protest at the height of the protest. Black Lives Matter.
He said he is therefore allowing Hening’s trial arguing that Adair penalized her for her political beliefs to continue her trial.
Hening – who was once a powerful midfielder and defender for the Hokies – alleged in her lawsuit last year that Adair “verbally abused” her after she refused to take a knee while playing a ” declaration of unity”, before considerably reducing the amount. of time she has played in each game.
Her treatment on the pitch eventually got so bad, she maintained, that she felt compelled to leave the team.
A federal judge ruled on December 2 that former Virginia Tech women’s soccer player Kiersten Hening (pictured) could formally sue her former coach for violating her First Amendment rights.
Hening argued in court papers that coach Charles ‘Chugger’ Adair (pictured) ‘verbally abused’ her after she refused to take a knee while reading a ‘statement of unity’ at most strong from the Black Lives Matter movement before drastically reducing the amount of time she played in each game
Hening explained in his federal lawsuit last year that his status on the team began to suffer during his freshman year in college in September 2020.
She and a few other students started the season by continuing to stand tall as the Atlantic Coast Conference’s ‘statement of unity’ in response to the death of George Floyd was read over loudspeakers during the home opener against the University of Virginia.
“All of the starters, including Hening, were standing on the field at the time,” the lawsuit states. “While other starters knelt during the unity declaration to reflect [former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s 2016 protests] and express support for [the Black Lives Matter movement]Hening remained standing.
She claims Adair responded with open hostility at halftime, targeting her, instead of the other players who remained standing, as she was not a scholarship athlete.
“At the next opportunity — at halftime of the game against Virginia — Coach Adair berated Hening for his stance,” the lawsuit continues. “He singled her out and attacked her verbally, pointing a finger directly at her face.
‘He denounced Hening for ”b****ing and moaning”, for being selfish and individualistic, and for ”doing his own thing”.
“Coach Adair’s tirade was so extreme, so personally directed at Hening and so out of touch with the game itself, that her teammates approached her afterwards to comfort her and express their shock.”
Hening was once a powerful midfielder and defender for the Hokies before her playing time on the field was drastically reduced in September 2020
The Virginia Tech women’s soccer team is pictured here before a ‘statement of unity’ was read during the 2020 home opener
As Hening explains in the court documents, while she “supports social justice and believes that black lives matter,” she does not support “BLM the organization,” citing her “tactics and fundamental principles of her statement. of mission, including the financing of the police”.
Federal Judge Thomas Cullen has ruled Hening may have reason to take legal action against his former coach
This opposition to the move had previously surfaced in a series of private social media exchanges with teammates.
“Someone took a screenshot of some of these private messages between the girls on the team and shared them with the coaching staff,” the lawsuit states. “Some of Hening’s teammates also saw the messages and were outraged.”
The team’s players reportedly called Adair in September 2020 asking him to respond to Hening’s social media comments.
After the game against Virginia, Hening lost her starting role, prompting her to quit the team altogether.
“Coach Adair’s campaign of abuse and retaliation made Hening’s conditions so intolerable that she felt compelled to resign,” the lawsuit states. “Hening didn’t want to leave.
“Due to the actions of her coach, Hening can no longer play the game she loves, despite two more years of NCAA eligibility,” he continued. “This Court should uphold Hening’s constitutional rights and award him a legal and fair remedy.”
In addition to unspecified financial awards for compensatory, punitive, and nominal damages, as well as attorneys’ fees, Hening is also seeking a ruling ordering Adair to “undergo First Amendment training.”
Adair had tried to convince Cullen to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that he had not penalized other student-athletes who stood up during the unity declaration.
Adair had tried to convince Cullen to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that he had not penalized the other student-athletes who showed up during the unity declaration, reports the New York Post.
But Cullen ultimately ruled there was enough evidence to support Hening’s argument that she was chosen for her political beliefs – noting that she averaged 76 minutes in each game as a freshman and nearly 88 minutes in every game as a sophomore.
In the game following the protest, however, Hening only played 29 minutes and in the third game of the season she played just five minutes.
“Ultimately, Adair could convince a jury that this coaching decision was based solely on Hening’s poor play during the UVA game, but the court, considering the evidence in the light most favorable to Hening, cannot come to this conclusion in law,” Cullen wrote.
‘While the United States Supreme Court and the Fourth Circuit may not have addressed the new factual circumstances presented here – i.e. a college coach who allegedly retaliated against a player for refusing to kneel with his coaches and teammates in support of perceived unity and social justice – the core Constitutional principle is both clearly established and fundamental to a free society, and in particular to an educational institute superior.