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Cal State L.A. settles athletic department sex harassment lawsuit for $2.75 million

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Mike Garrett, shown in 2009, was athletic director at Cal State Los Angeles for less than a year before retiring in mid-2016.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Cal State Los Angeles settled a sexual harassment lawsuit by a former high-ranking athletic department official for $2.75 million last month, according to a copy of the agreement obtained by The Times.

Sheila Hudson accused ex-athletic director Mike Garrett and the school of violating California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act and of intentional infliction of emotional distress, among five causes of action in a lawsuit filed in L.A. County Superior Court in August 2016.

“This settlement is a compromise of disputed claims and is not an admission by any Party of any liability or wrongdoing,” the settlement said. “The Parties specifically deny any wrongdoing of any kind whatsoever and the Parties enter into this Agreement to buy their peace and avoid the further costs of litigation.”

The agreement also resolves the school’s lawsuit against Hudson, the former senior associate athletic director who left in May 2017, that accused her of violating California law by secretly recording conversations with four employees.

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The five-page settlement bars the parties from discussing the matter. Hudson’s attorney didn’t respond to requests for comment and a Cal State L.A. spokesman declined to comment.

In the first lawsuit, Hudson alleged Garrett used “degrading, sexist names such as, ‘Sweetheart,’ ‘Love’ and ‘Babe’” for women employed in the school’s athletic department and said he “exploded” when she raised the issue.

Hudson, a former Olympian hired as an assistant track and field coach at Cal State L.A. in 2002, also accused the school of retaliating after she compiled a report highlighting gaps in pay and other areas between men and women in the athletic department.

Garrett and Cal State L.A. denied the accusations in court filings.

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Garrett, a former Heisman Trophy winner, served as USC’s athletic director from 1993 to 2010, and held the same position at Cal State L.A. for less than a year before retiring in mid-2016.

As part of the settlement, the four Cal State L.A. employees who accused Hudson of recording them without permission agreed not to pursue criminal charges.

In a ruling early in the school’s lawsuit, Judge Rafael Ongkeko found that the recordings likely violated state law and fined Hudson’s legal team $7,000 for “willful discovery abuse.”

Hudson is required to delete any social media posts referencing the litigation, according to the settlement, and barred from applying for jobs at any California State University.

She received a check for $1.27 million, according to the document, while her attorney’s firm, El Segundo-based Abrolat Law, got $1.47 million.

Both sides filed motions to dismiss their lawsuits in late December.

nathan.fenno@latimes.com

Twitter: @nathanfenno

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