Steve Sarkisian alleges discrimination in suit against USC

Former USC head coach Steve Sarkisian has filed a lawsuit against the school for the way it handled his embarrassing exit from the program earlier this season.

The suit claims breach of contract, breach of implied covenant of good faith, failure to accommodate, discrimination on the basis of disability, retaliation, and violation of confidentiality of medical information, among other things, according to TMZ. Sarkisian's suit seeks at least $12.6 million in damages (money remaining on the contract he signed), according to TMZ. His lawyer, Alan Loewinsohn, told TMZ that Sarkisian wants more than $30 million.

"Alcoholism is a recognized disability under California law. So firing somebody because of that disability is against the law," Loewinsohn said, per the report.

USC responded with a statement from school general counsel Carol Mauch Amir, asserting in no uncertain terms that it views Sarkisian's complaint to be a distortion of the facts.

"Much of what is stated in the lawsuit filed today by Steve Sarkisian is patently untrue.  While the university does not as a matter of practice comment on personnel matters or litigation, the record will show that Mr. Sarkisian repeatedly denied to university officials that he had a problem with alcohol, never asked for time off to get help, and resisted university efforts to provide him with help," Amir said. "The university made clear in writing that further incidents would result in termination, as it did.  We are profoundly disappointed in how Mr. Sarkisian has mischaracterized the facts and we intend to defend these claims vigorously."

Sarkisian's job security at USC first came into question in August, after he put on an embarrassing display in a speech at a booster function. He later said he was under the influence of alcohol and medication during the event. USC athletic director Pat Haden directed Sarkisian into a treatment program but allowed him to continue as coach of the Trojans.

Weeks later on Oct. 12, Haden fired Sarkisian for violating the terms of the program after he reportedly arrived for team meetings intoxicated on a Sunday morning, though according to Sarkisian's complaint, he was not drunk. Haden's directive included a zero-tolerance policy for alcohol use.



A Los Angeles Times report documented Sarkisian's alleged history with alcohol at his previous head coaching job at Washington. Sarkisian reportedly went to an alcohol rehab facility after his termination.

According to the complaint, Sarkisian has completed treatment and is ready to return to the coaching profession.

Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter *@ChaseGoodbread*.

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