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Former Coach Amends Lawsuit Against Chad Kelly, Argos

In February a former Argonauts strength and conditioning coach filed a lawsuit against Chad Kelly and the Toronto Argonauts for wrongful dismissal.

<em>Photo Courtesy Christopher Katsarov C<em>P

Former Toronto Argonauts strength and conditioning coach has amended her lawsuit against the team and quarterback Chad Kelly. The initial lawsuit was brought to light in February and amendments were made early in April.

She is suing Kelly for $50,000 for violations of the Ontario Human Rights Code. There is also a joint lawsuit against Kelly and the Toronto Argonauts for $85,714 for wrongful dismissal. She is also fighting for $10,000 of punitive damages.

“Chad is a high-profile athlete, won the Most Outstanding Player award of the CFL in 2023 and is a role model to Canadian Football fans,” the amended lawsuit says. “Given his important profile, Chad’s conduct deserves special reprimand from the court to send out a message that women must be treated with respect and Canadian courts will not tolerate behaviour similar to Chad’s.”

“We do not believe the claims against Mr. Kelly have any merit and are taking steps to defend the action,” said Kelly’s lawyer Nancy Shapiro.

The allegations put forth state the Argos failed to address Kelly harassing the coach as he attempted pursuing a romantic relationship with her. She had worked for the Argos from 2018 until she was informed in January 2024 that her contract would not be renewed. The alleged harassment is said to have taken place between the 2022 and 2023 seasons.

The Bills Incident

In the amended lawsuit is an instance referred to as the “Bills incident.” Allegedly in October 2022 Kelly informed the former coach and others he would get them free tickets to a Buffalo Bills game. Kelly was adamant the group get an Airbnb to spend the night in Buffalo, an offer the coach declined despite Kellys persistence.

The lawsuit goes on to say the coach felt troubled by the circumstances and brought the situation to General Manager Michael “Pinball” Clemons. Clemons “stated that he thought it was a great networking event for [the coach] to go to the NFL Bills game,” according to the lawsuit.

“Chad got visibly aggravated and then proceeded to say, ‘Oh man, why would you tell Pinball? You shouldn’t have gone to Pinball. You shouldn’t have done that. Why the f*** would you go to Pinball?” the lawsuit says.

Afterwords Kelly allegedly cussed out her name in the quarterback meeting room. Soon after, Kelly told the coach he expected her to pay the full price of the tickets which she declined to do, skipping the trip.

“Chad would plan movie or dinner dates, but [the coach] declined,” the lawsuit goes on to say. “On one occasion Chad told [her] that they would need only 30 minutes, [a] comment that took [her] aback.

The coach allegedly confronted Kelly on November 6th, to which Kelly responded aggressively, screaming and swearing at her. After this interaction the coach told Kelly not to contact her unless it was work related.

The allegations state an hour after this confrontation the coach was eating breakfast with at least eight others, including her supervisor Usama Mujtaba. Kelly entered the room, saw her, and yelled derogatory words at her. It is alleged he yelled he cannot wait until she is fired.

The lawsuit states she informed her supervisor Usama Mujtaba as well as Argonauts Assistant General Manager John Murphy about what had been happening with Kelly. Murphy allegedly responded she had “opened a can of worms that didn’t need to be opened.”

“Despite [her] supervisor witnessing parts of the incident and [the coach] reporting the ongoing harassment, the Argonauts failed to take action to address the situation, leaving [her] in a distressing and unsupported position within the team,” the lawsuit states.

The Season Ahead

Chad Kelly is currently listed as the starting quarterback for the Argonauts going into the 2024 season. Since allegations first came out against Kelly the CFL has launched a private investigation.

In August Kelly signed a three-year contract extension with the Argos reportedly worth $1.865 million. The hefty paycheque makes Chad Kelly the highest paid player in the CFL.

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Matthew Harrison
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