Well it looks like attempts to keep this out of the headlines have failed. Zina Garrison has officially filed a lawsuit against the USTA for discrimination.
In the lawsuit filed Thursday in Manhattan federal court, Garrison says she was treated unfairly because she was paid a lower salary than Davis Cup coach Patrick McEnroe, wasn't given a multiyear deal equivalent to McEnroe's and subjected to higher performance standards than he was.
Garrison's suit also claims her replacement, Mary Joe Fernandez, was given a given a higher salary than she was despite little coaching experience at the national level.
The USTA announced in December 2007 that 2008 would be Garrison's final season at the helm and Fernandez would take over in 2009.
Garrison, the first black captain of the U.S. Fed Cup team, replaced Billie Jean King in 2004 and was not brought back after going 5-5 over five seasons, losing in the semifinals four times and the quarterfinals once.
"The USTA takes all allegations of discrimination seriously and takes pride in its numerous diversity initiatives and achievements," USTA spokesman Chris Widmaier said. "The USTA elected not to renew Ms. Garrison's Fed Cup captaincy based on her performance, and strongly denies any allegation of discrimination asserted by Ms. Garrison.
"During Ms. Garrison's five-year tenure as captain, the United States Fed Cup team did not advance to the Fed Cup final, it's longest drought in the competition's 45-year history."
Ouch. But true.
Not knowing any of the specifics or details I still think Zina's treading into dangerous water here. Your baselines for comparison are going to be Patrick McEnroe and MJ? Does it surprise anyone that in a competitive market where top level tennis coaches are rare, that Patrick McEnroe and MJ would have more leverage to negotiate higher salaries than Zina? I mean, both of them are TV commentators and surely their services are in demand. You have to pay them more to lure them away from other opportunities.
I'm still very surprised that this has been elevated to an actual litigation. The USTA clearly not only thinks it did nothing wrong but also that Zina's evidence and arguments aren't going to embarass them in the court of public opinion, which is typically a huge bullying stick for plaintiffs in employment discrimination cases.
The only thing I could dig up was this:
Garrison says Fed Cup Chairwoman Sara Fornaciari once complained to her that Venus Williams hadn't called her back about playing in a tournament, saying: "Venus was like you and just like Serena; none of you people call back."
But Fornaciari isn't affiliated with the USTA. So......
I can pull the complaint on Monday. Should be an interesting read. From what I can tell she's no longer claiming her termination was racially motivated/tinged, but how she was treated while she was there.