Discovery underway in religious discrimination suit against Lamar

David Yates Jun. 11, 2012, 12:58pm

Although no answer is on file, discovery is underway in litigation brought by an instructor who alleges Lamar University 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 answer deadline for Lamar.

Nonetheless, discovery is still underway in the suit.

On May 30 a certificate of discovery was filed, showing that Ozmum has sent her first set of requests for production, interrogatories and disclosure to Lamar.

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."

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.

Assistant Attorney General Lars Hagan represents Lamar.

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

Case No. B192-226

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