United States Olympic Committee accused of discriminating against disabled athletes

Employee says lawsuit against employer is last resort

An employee's lawsuit accusing the United States Olympic Committee of discriminating against disabled athletes surprised many USOC officials.

An employee's lawsuit accusing the United States Olympic Committee of discriminating against disabled athletes surprised many USOC officials.

"When I look at some of the things in this lawsuit, all I can say is I'm dazed and confused," said Charlie Huebner, executive director of the US Association for Blind Athletes.

The USOC president Bill Hybl and his aides responded on Thursday to a lawsuit filed by Mark Shepherd, the manager of the committee's Disabled Sports Services and a medalist in wheelchair basketball in the 1996 Olympic games at Atlanta.

In a 23-count complaint, Shepherd said he did not receive the same staff, budget or pay as other senior Olympic officials with similar responsibilities. He also alleged programmes for disabled athletes receive less funding and stipends for gold medals.

"I've risked pretty much everything, and I'm not a crusader," Shepherd said.

The USOC, which supports approximately 20,000 elite disabled athletes, disputes Shepherd's claims, saying just a week ago, its board of directors approved funding to give paralympic athletes the same commemorative rings and watches that other athletes receive.

"In my opinion, this really isn't about programmes for the disabled," said Scott Blackmun, USOC deputy executive director and general counsel. "This is about one disgruntled employee's career path."

Blackmun said Shepherd's performance on the job, including 35 unaccounted absences, did not merit bonuses or promotions.

Shepherd said he just looking out for his fellow disabled athletes.

"They represent their country. They put on the red, white and blue," he said. "Yet they're not afforded the same services as every other athlete. How long do you keep them at bay?"

The lawsuit calls for an independent investigation of the USOC and seeks at least $11 million in damages, as well as court costs.

While the USOC agreed to let Shepherd report to a different supervisor, Shepherd is seeking to resolve other issues.

"If I had a magic wand, all disabled athletes would receive the same access to services, programmes and funding as every other athlete in the United States," Shepherd said.

Shepherd had a traumatic spinal cord injury in 1986 while serving as a police officer in California. He said he is the only USOC employee bound to a wheelchair.

"I think they know I'm there as an advocate, but at the same time, they don't want that advocacy to be too loud," he said.

The lawsuit claims the USOC violated the American with Disabilities Act of 1990, the Rehabilitations Act of 1973 and other civil rights laws.

Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Voices
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Sport
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
football
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths surrounding the enigmatic singer
Sport
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
Life and Style
life
Sport
Christian Benteke of Aston Villa celebrates scoring the winner for Aston Villa
football
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
News
Bill O'Reilly attends The Hollywood Reporter 35 Most Powerful People In Media Celebration at The Four Seasons Restaurant on April 16, 2014 in New York City
media It is the second time he and the channel have clarified statements
News
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Lettings and Sales Negotiator - OTE £46,000

£16000 - £46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Home Care Worker - Reading and Surrounding Areas

£9 - £13 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity to join a s...

Recruitment Genius: Key Sales Account Manager - OTE £35,000

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Have you got a proven track rec...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn