PINEVILLE, La. (AP) — An attorney for a private Baptist college in Louisiana and the school’s president disputes a lawsuit’s claims that they refused to hire an applicant for a football coaching job because of his Jewish heritage.
The lawyer, Darren Patin, said Friday that Louisiana College and its president, Rick Brewer, “wholeheartedly” deny the allegations and “look forward to their day in court and the dismissal of the lawsuit.”
Joshua Bonadona sued the Pineville college and Brewer on Wednesday, accusing them of violating his civil rights.
Bonadona’s lawsuit says he applied for a job as defensive backs coach and was interviewed last May by Brewer and head football coach Justin Charles. The suit claims Charles later told Bonadona that Brewer refused to approve his hiring because of what Brewer called his “Jewish blood.”
Charles, who is not named as a defendant or accused of any wrongdoing in the lawsuit, said in an email Thursday that he is “not at liberty to comment on this matter.”
Bonadona, a 28-year-old graduate of Louisiana College, was born into a Jewish family but converted to Christianity during his time as a student and kicker on the school’s football team. He often led the football team’s “Christian devotional,” but it was a “widely known fact” on campus that his mother was Jewish, the lawsuit says.
Bonadona’s attorney, James Bullman, said Thursday that private religious institutions like Louisiana College can be legally entitled to make employment decisions based on the religion of a job applicant or employee. But people of Jewish heritage are protected as a “distinct race” under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and federal law prohibits employers from failing to hire somebody on the basis of race, the lawsuit says.
Bonadona subsequently took a coaching job at Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas, for less money than Louisiana College would have paid him, the suit says.