A former Pomona College Athletic Department employee who says one coach told him, “Even old guys like you can have heroes” dropped his suit alleging age played a role in his 2020 firing.
Robert Tompson’s Pomona Superior Court lawsuit was filed last Nov. 12, but does not state how old the former equipment manager was when he lost his job. He sought unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.
Tompson’s attorneys filed court papers March 4 with Judge Gloria White-Brown asking that their client’s case be dismissed. The court papers did not state if a settlement was reached or if Tompson was not pursuing the case for other reasons.
Tompson was hired at the Claremont-based college in August 2007, and throughout his time working there other employees repeatedly made discriminatory statements about his age, the suit alleged. In one case, Assistant Athletic Director Aaron Becker joked with Tompson that the name of the plaintiff’s fantasy baseball team was “Old Angry Bob,” the suit stated.
When former Cincinnati Reds great Pete Rose visited Pomona’s campus on a recruiting visit, Tompson told the assistant men’s cross country and tack and field coach Kyle Flores that it was “pretty cool” to have celebrities and famous sports figures visiting, the suit stated.
Flores allegedly replied, “Even old guys like you can have heroes.”
Tompson was passed over as head football coach even though he had worked on the football staff for nine seasons, the suit alleges. He was told he would be prohibited from serving on the coaching staff at all, resulting in the revocation of his monthly stipend, the suit stated.
Many of Tompson’s duties were removed and given to other athletic department members and he was unexpectedly removed from weekly operations meetings, according to the suit, which said he was told to “lessen his load,” even though he had been fulfilling his job duties.
After he sought membership on a committee regarding the renovation of the Rains Athletic Center, a far younger employee was selected who also assumed all of Tompson’s budget and hiring responsibilities, the suit states.
Tompson spoke with two other members of the athletic department in December 2019 and the conversation was investigated by Pomona’s Title IX coordinator, who found that the plaintiff made two statements that were found to be offensive to transgender students, the suit states.
Tompson met with the investigator and explained he had no ill will toward transgender student athletes and that he did not intend to offend anyone, according to the suit.
The investigator stated in a report that Tompson did not violate Pomona College policy, the suit states. Tompson maintains that despite the investigator’s conclusion, the report was wrongfully forwarded to Robert Gaines, Pomona College vice president for academic affairs.
Tompson was fired May 19, 2020, according to the suit.
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