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Rutgers Basketball Is a Lesson Learned About Harassment and Intimidation

Learning at Rutgers University isn’t limited to the classroom. There are lessons to be learned even on the university’s basketball court. That’s where players suffered verbal and physical assaults by then head coach Mike Rice Jr. beginning in 2010.

Rice’s coaching style included cursing at players, shoving them, and throwing basketballs at their heads. When Rutgers initially dealt with this abusive behavior last December, Rice was:

  • Suspended for three games without pay
  • Fined $50,000
  • Banned from any contact with players
  • Banned from the Rutgers campuses

However, Rice was able to return to his position for the following season. That is, until ESPN aired a compilation videos in April of Rice’s abusive behavior during practice sessions. Upon seeing the video compilation, the university president fired Rice and did not renew the contract of his assistant coach Eric Murdock (who had first reported the abuse).

Rutgers hired an independent legal firm to investigate the incident and its aftermath, and provide recommendations to the University. In a 38-page recently released report, recommendations were made that can be applied to almost any organization or business. Of particular interest are the following points:

  • The department of human resources should have had more formal involvement once the harassment was initially reported.
  • Human resource policies and procedures should be applicable uniformly across all departments.
  • A risk assessment program should be established throughout the university so that leadership can be made aware of incidents posing potential risks to its reputation and potential legal consequences.

If your workplace permits hostility and intimidation to flourish, let our attorneys help you put a stop to it.

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Neil H. Deutsch
Senior Partner

About Neil H. Deutsch has been practicing law for over 35 years and is known as a skilled negotiator in employment and discrimination law. He believes in a bottom-line approach of risk analysis and cost effectiveness for his clients. "Case evaluation is something we take seriously," says Mr. Deutsch who seeks top net dollar for…

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Bruce L. Atkins
Senior Partner

About Bruce L. Atkins is regarded as one of New Jersey's premiere practitioners of employment and civil litigation. Mr. Atkins has also been included in the Thomson Reuters list of New Jersey Super Lawyers* in Employment Litigation since 2005. Mr. Atkins believes employees have rights that should be aggressively pursued when an employer has wrongfully dealt…

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Adam J. Kleinfeldt
Partner

About Adam J. Kleinfeldt joined Deutsch Atkins, P.C. in March of 2015.  He primarily represents individuals in employment litigations such as discrimination, retaliation, and whistle blowing matters.  He has extensive experience in all phases of the litigation process. Adam has obtained significant results for some of his clients, including a $525,000 jury verdict in a…

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Robert J. Pantina
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About Robert J. Pantina joined the firm in 2018. Mr. Pantina received his B.A. from Rider University in 2008. He received his J.D. from the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University in 2017. While in law school, Mr. Pantina interned for the Hon. Bonnie J. Mizdol, Assignment Judge of the Superior Court of…

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Diane Englander Peyser
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About Diane Englander Peyser joined Deutsch Atkins, PC in September 2018 where she represents employees in wrongful termination, retaliation, harassment, and discrimination matters. Prior to joining Deutsch Atkins, PC, Diane represented clients in all aspects of employment law on behalf of employees involving unemployment appeals, claims of sexual harassment, LGBT discrimination, disability discrimination, FMLA, New…

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