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.”