Still no answer from Lamar 30 days after religious discrimination suit

David Yates May 3, 2012, 6:00am

Lamar University Theater and Dance Department

Although 30 days have passed, Lamar University has still not answered a lawsuit brought by an instructor who alleges the college discriminated against her after she failed to attend a performance embracing homosexuality.

As previously reported, Linda Ozmun filed suit against Lamar and Judith Sebesta, chair of the Department of Theater and Dance, on March 26 in Jefferson County District Court.

Court records show that on May 1 a Rule 11 agreement was entered extending the defendants answer deadline until May 7.

Defendants have 30 days to answer a lawsuit after being served, according to Texas Civil Code.

The Rule 11 notice was filed by Assistant Attorney General Lars Hagan.

In her suit, Ozmun says that she is a faculty member of the theater department, which encompasses theater and dance. Ozmun is a dance instructor, according to the faculty pages on the Lamar University website.

According to her suit, Ozmun alleges she asked to be excused from attending a show centered on homosexuality but was threatened with disciplinary action if she failed to attend.

"Because of her religious beliefs, plaintiff failed to attend the performance and as a result she was disciplined for her religious beliefs," the suit states. "Defendants have discriminated against plaintiff on the basis of her religious beliefs in violation of the Texas anti-discrimination laws."

In her suit, Ozmun claims the incident has caused a hostile work environment and improper denial of promotions.

She alleges the defendants acted with malice, entitling her to exemplary damages.

Beaumont attorney Barry Bennett of Eddins & Bennett represents her.

Judge Gary Sanderson, 60th District Court, is assigned to the case.

Case No. B192-226

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