Federal lawsuit claims Louisiana College president refused to hire football coach because of his “Jewish blood.”

According to a complaint filed late yesterday in a federal district court in Alexandria and made available to The Bayou Brief, Dr. Rick Brewer, the president of Louisiana College, a small, Southern Baptist school located in Pineville, refused to hire the top candidate for an assistant football coach position, Joshua Bonadano, because of Bonadona’s “Jewish blood.”

The complaint alleges that Bonadona, who was reared in the Jewish faith but converted to Christianity while an undergraduate at LC from 2009-2013, did not receive the job due to the anti-Semitic beliefs of Dr. Brewer, statements, it’s worth nothing, that Brewer apparently made to LC’s head football coach, Justin Charles, who had highly recommended Bonadona for the position.

Quoting from the complaint filed on behalf of Bonadona:

For more than a decade, Louisiana College has been besieged by controversy, incompetent and divisive leadership, and an almost relentless string of scandals, all of which had occurred during the tenure of the school’s previous president, Joe Aguillard (who, incidentally, is also suing the school for religious discrimination and wrongful termination).

But so far, Brewer’s tenure has largely remained scandal-free, and the school’s reputation has been rebounding.

The Bayou Brief, at the time of publication, has not received a response from the Louisiana College administration or the office of president Brewer, though it is possible they have not yet been properly served with the complaint, according to one of Bonadona’s lawyers, James Bullman. We will update the story as soon as Louisiana College issues a statement.

Prior to filing the lawsuit, Bullman filed a complaint with the EEOC on Bonadona’s allegations, and lawyers for the school had argued that because Bonadona had converted to Christianity and identified himself as a Baptist, any claim of religious-based discrimination were not valid. However, that is not the claim made in the complaint, Bullman explained to The Bayou Brief.

Religious schools like Louisiana College are allowed to discriminate on the basis of religion, but they cannot discriminate against any member of a protected federal class as a result of a person’s race or ethnicity.

“People of Jewish heritage are protected as a distinct race under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Sharre Tefila Congregation v. Cobb, 481 U.S. 615 (1987),” the complaint reads. “As such, employment discrimination against an individual based upon his Jewish ethnic heritage is prohibited under 42 U.S.C. 2000e-2.”

Bonadona’s mother is Jewish, and his father is a practicing Catholic, facts that allegedly came up several times during his interview with president Brewer. According to Coach Charles, Bonadona was the only candidate he recommended for the position; he had been recruited back to his alma mater, and Bonadona received strong assurances that he would be hired. As a consequence, he resigned his job at Southeastern Missouri State University. He currently is employed at Hendrix College in Arkansas.

Bonadona is seeking to recover “backpay, lost employment benefits, costs associated with obtaining a new job, mental and emotional anguish, punitive damages, reasonable attorney’s fees, and costs.”

You can read the full complaint here.

Exhibit A is his job application.

Exhibit B is his complaint with the EEOC.

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Lamar White, Jr.
Lamar White, Jr. is an award-winning writer and the publisher and founder of the Bayou Brief, Louisiana’s only statewide news and culture publication. Born and raised on the banks of the Red River in Alexandria, he is a proud product of the Louisiana public education system and a graduate of Rice University in Houston and SMU’s Dedman School of Law in Dallas. Lamar has been writing about politics and public policy in Louisiana for twenty years, beginning as a weekly youth columnist for his hometown paper, the Town Talk. After earning his undergraduate degree in English and Religious Studies, Lamar moved back to Alexandria, where he launched a popular blogsite, CenLamar, and worked for five years as the Special Assistant to the Mayor. He exposed significant problems with Louisiana’s school voucher program, which resulted in a series of other investigations and ultimately in the removal of several schools from the program. He was the last person to argue online with Andrew Breitbart. He investigated and then broke the report that U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise had once attended a white supremacist conference. He was the first to share a photograph of Bobby Jindal’s portrait in the state Capitol. He exposed U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy’s incomplete timesheets while the then-representative moonlighted as a physician. He earned headlines in Texas after the gubernatorial campaign of Greg Abbott falsely claimed he had been exploited as a “campaign prop” by Abbott’s opponent, Wendy Davis, and after exposing U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz’s campaign for relying on online “bot farms” to counter Beto O’Rourke, and he earned headlines in Mississippi after publishing videos of U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith making bizarre comments about public hangings and voter suppression tactics which were both perceived as racist. Lamar was the recipient of the 2011 Ashley Morris Award, given to the writer who best exemplifies the spirit of New Orleans, and in 2019, he was honored as one of Gambit’s Top 40 Under 40 and as the year’s Outstanding Millennial in Journalism at the annual Millennial Awards. He has been the subject of profiles in the Washington Post, the Huffington Post, Above the Law, and the Advocate and has appeared multiple times as a guest on CNN and MSNBC. Lamar currently lives in New Orleans with his two golden retrievers, Lucy Ana and Ruby Dog.