Former assistant track and field coach, Carjay Lyles, is sueing Mizzou over racial discrimination that he alleges he experienced during his time at the university. Carjay Lyles says he faced several instances of discrimination during his four years coaching at the university between 2013 and 2017. The lawsuit names head coach Brad Halter, associate director of compliance Mitzi Clayton, and the board of curators.
Lyles says that Halter referred to black athletes as “you people” and that the department exhibited “discriminatory and demeaning” behavior toward black athletes and staff. Lyles, who was the only African-American on the track and field coaching staff, was asked by Halter to come and lay grass seed on his lawn. Halter said something like, “Are you sure you won’t be coming, because I have one K left and two Ks laid out, so I lay down one more none of you will be coming.” Thais was a reference to the KKK, which was supposed to be taken as a joke. It may have also been meant to reference the fact that strikes in baseball are symbolized with Ks. Perhaps Halter believed that Lyles had two strikes against him. No one really knows.
Lyles said that Halter screamed at him and threw papers in his direction at a meeting. Lyles also accuses Halter of kicking a trash can before he stormed off.
Lyles’ attorneys say that this shows a pattern of discriminatory and demeaning behavior toward the plaintiff and other black athletes on the team.
Lyles Files a Complaint against Halter
Lyles says that subsequent to a meeting he had with HR to report Halter’s conduct, the department engineered a campaign of character assassination against him. He believes Disa Nichols, a runner for a sports agent, was threatening student-athletes in order to manufacture complaints against him. He claims that Nichols was telling student-athletes that immigration would revoke visas if they did not file complaints against Lyles and contradict his claims.
Athletic Directors Holds Meeting with Lyles and Halter
Lyles says that before his discharge, the athletic director, Mack Rhoades, held a meeting with him and Halter. During the meeting Halter’s conduct toward Lyles was a main topic of conversation. Rhoades seemed to indicate that Halter was treating Lyles unfairly.
Lyles Opts Out of Returning
Despite his success with his team and good performance reviews, Lyles was the only Mizzou coach on the staff who was not offered a title promotion, contract extension, or raise. Lyles spoke to the MU chancellor concerning Halter’s conduct as well as an executive in the athletic department.
While Lyles is entitled to collect damages for racial discrimination and a hostile work environment, he faces a difficult Missouri litigation climate that heavily favors employers in instances of workplace discrimination.
HKM Employment Law Helps Those Who Experience Discrimination in the Workplace
HKM Employment Law of Kansas City manages lawsuits for those who have been wrongly discharged, passed up for promotion, or otherwise discriminated against in the workplace.