Deborah Powell was the women’s basketball coach at Asbury University who brought numerous complaints over several years to the university’s athletic director that the men’s team was receiving preferential treatment. Later, the university placed Powell on administrative leave allegedly for her having an inappropriate relationship with a female assistant coach. Powell brought suit under the Kentucky Civil Rights Act claiming that Asbury discriminated against her based on gender, defamed her, and retaliated against her for her complaints about her team receiving inferior treatment. The Jessamine Circuit Court ruled in Asbury’s favor regarding the discrimination and defamation, but in Powell’s favor on the retaliation claim. Both the Kentucky Court of Appeals and the Kentucky Supreme Court affirmed, holding that while the school had not engaged in gender discrimination, it had engaged in retaliation against Powell for her complaining about alleged gender discrimination, which is in itself unlawful.
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