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Sarkisian files wrongful termination suit against USC

Some fans of the University of Southern California's football team were surprised and saddened this fall when the university fired the team's head coach Steve Sarkisian. Reports of alcohol abuse surrounded his termination. Reportedly, Sarkisian was en route to an alcohol treatment center in October when he received an e-mail from Pat Haden, USC's athletic director, notifying him of his termination.

Now Sarkisian is fighting back. He has filed a wrongful termination suit against the university. According to the lawsuit, USC violated the terms of the coach's contract and terminated him without accommodating his need for treatment for what the suit terms a "disability." Instead, according to the suit, the university "kicked him to the curb."

According to the suit filed by Sarkisian, under California law, USC was required to provide him time off to seek treatment. The suit also contends that the stress of his job contributed to his alcoholism. He says that he is now sober and ready to coach again. Sarkisian's attorney has said that he will seek over $30 million in damages.

USC's general counsel says that the university files to "vigorously" fight the lawsuit. She says that Sarkisian "mischaracterized" the situation. A statement from USC calls many of the claims made in the lawsuit "patently untrue." The university says that in fact it tried to provide help for its head coach and that in fact Sarkisian "resisted" these efforts.

Those who believed that they have been wrongfully terminated because of a substance abuse issue may be able to seek legal recourse. An experienced California employment attorney can answer your questions regarding your particular case.

Source: ESPN, "Steve Sarkisian files wrongful-termination lawsuit against USC," Dec. 07, 2015

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