Former field hockey coach files lawsuit against university for gender, pay discrimination

Former Kent State Field Hockey Coach Kathleen Wiler sued the university in federal court.

Amanda Levine Sports editor

Editor’s Note: Kathleen Wiler resigned in February 2019, ahead of Kent State field hockey’s 2019 season.

Former Kent State field hockey coach Kathleen Wiler sued the university in federal court Tuesday “for gender discrimination, wage discrimination and unequal pay based on gender.” 

In the Eastern Division of the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Ohio, Wiler and her attorneys filed a class action lawsuit stating she made less money than her male counterparts in coaching positions at Kent State. The five-time Mid-American Conference coach of the year made $85,496. The lawsuit states male coaches at Kent State earned an average of $125,291. 

Emily Vincent, Kent State’s director of media relations, said in an email, “We have yet to be served. We do not comment on pending litigation.” 

Wiler was the Kent State field hockey coach from 2006-2019. During her time at Kent State, she led the school to eight regular season Mid-American Conference titles, five MAC Tournament wins and five NCAA playoff appearances. 

The judge for the case will have to determine if it is a class action lawsuit. Wiler and her attorneys are seeking to “represent women who have experienced pay discrimination and that have been denied equal pay relative to the work performed compared to similarly situated male employees,” according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit comes five months after former Kent State athletics employees, donors, coaches and student-athletes signed a letter calling for Joel Nielsen, the director of athletics, to resign. The supporters of the letter campaigned to fix the “damaged culture” in the department. 

According to the court documents, Wiler filed complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in August 2017 and again in December 2019.  

The lawsuit says Wiler raised concerns about “unequal pay and discriminatory working conditions based on her gender” prior to the first EEOC complaint and from that point forward through counsel until she resigned in February 2019. 

Calls to Wiler and Karen Lefton, her attorney, were not immediately returned.

Contact Amanda Levine at [email protected]