Judge hears motions in UT discrimination lawsuit

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- The University of Tennessee filed two motions in federal court Thursday morning in an age, sex and disability discrimination suit filed by former Lady Vols media relations director Debby Jennings. Jennings claims UT and Athletic Director Dave Hart forced her out, but UT's attorneys say that's not true.

Jennings worked as the primary media contact for the Lady Vols for more than 35 years. She says she was forced to retire in May 2012 because of age and sex discrimination.

Jennings also claims UT's athletic director, Dave Hart, discriminated against Pat Summitt because she had early onset dementia, Alzheimer's type, and that Hart forced Summit to step down as the Lady Vols head coach during a meeting in March of 2012.

After the meeting, Jennings says Pat Summitt told her she was upset, and Jennings sent an e-mail to Hart, asking him to reconsider his decision. She claims that's also part of the reason she was forced to retire.

According to the lawsuit, Coach Summitt's son, Tyler Summitt, says his mom misunderstood Hart during their meeting and that Hart actually told Summitt that the decision to step down as head coach would always be hers to make. Tyler Summitt and Coach Summitt herself said that she later decided to step down on her own. UT's attorneys say Jennings knew that information before filing suit.

UT filed two motions at Thursday's hearing. The first motion asked to limit the defense's access to documents regarding how Summitt made her decision to step down to protect her privacy. The second motion was to limit what information is released to the media, so that the case isn't tried in the press.

The judge said he'd issue rulings on both motions at a later time.


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