Former coach accuses Tampa Bay Lightning of firing her for reporting a sexual assault by a team executive

A 23-year-old former youth hockey coach for the Tampa Bay Lightning organization is suing the team for allegedly firing her in response to telling human resources that an executive sexually assaulted her during a work trip. The woman wants to be reinstated at her former job with the Lightning’s community outreach program and compensated for back pay in lost wages since being fired in August 2018 as well as for damages from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Court documents obtained by the Tampa Bay Times lay out the story of the woman’s accusations. According to the lawsuit, Aaron Humphrey, a community hockey coordinator for the Lightning and an associate coach with the University of South Florida Ice Bulls hockey team, allegedly sexually assaulted the unnamed woman during an overnight work trip to Pensacola, Florida The assault happened after the coach repeatedly resisted Humphrey’s advances, according to the lawsuit.

After the trip, the lawsuit says the woman tried to forget what happened, but she still had to deal with harassment while she continued to reject a sexual relationship with Humprey — the lawsuit also notes that she had been dealing with disparate, discriminatory, and harassing treatment based on her sex” since she started working for the Lightning in 2016. 

The woman claims that she tried to have a conversation with Humphrey about the incident, but he allegedly responded with laughter and proceeded to put his hand in her pants, according to the lawsuit. Her work life grew more difficult as she found she was scrutinized more closely on her performance, passed over for a promotion and written up multiple times for behavior that her coworkers frequently exhibited without repercussion, the lawsuit says.

The now-former coach tried to file a complaint with Jay Feaster, vice president of community hockey development for the Tampa Bay Lightning, in June 2018 but he declined her a conversation and referred her to human resources, per the lawsuit. She was ultimately fired on Aug. 7, 2018 for violating company policy, and when she asked about her HR complaint regarding the sexual assault, an employee allegedly responded “Oh, I heard about that but that’s in the past and doesn’t matter.”

No criminal charges were filed against Humphrey, the Tampa Bay Times found. The only thing the woman filed was a discrimination charge with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Florida Commission on Human Relations, which has not resulted in any action. This current lawsuit names Tampa Bay Sports and Entertainment, doing business as the Tampa Bay Lightning, as the defendant.

Neither the Lightning nor Humphrey provided comment.

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