CENTRE COUNTY-Pa. (WTAJ)– A former Penn State Football trainer filed a lawsuit Monday against PSU, along with Athletic Director Sandy Barbour and Senior Associate Athletic director Charmelle Green, claiming he was wrongfully terminated.
Tim Bream, the man filing suit, also served as the in-house adviser for the Beta Theta Pi Fraternity when Timothy Piazza fell down multiple flights of stairs and died after drinking 18 drinks in about 80 minutes.
The suit filed by Bream’s lawyer Steven Marino claims that following the death of Pizza, Bream was wrongfully given a poor review, was demoted, and subjected to what he describes as “intolerable” working conditions that forced him to resign.
Bream’s suit does not cite specific examples of this treatment, but Marino did say his client lost nearly half of his annual salary.
Bream is now seeking damages over $50,000 (no exact-dollar figure is listed in the suit).
A major question in this case: can someone claim to be wrongfully fired if they officially resign?
WTAJ’s legal analyst Tony DeBoef weighed-in: “You can quit a job in Pennsylvania and then consequently allege that you were forced out by the by the way you were being treated…. this is what he’s trying to do.”
DeBoef went on to give examples of treatment that Bream would’ve had to experience.
“Making him do a job he’s not qualified for, or cutting his salary to almost nothing…” he said.
An aforementioned statement about Bream’s pay being cut in half could play a factor in this case, but it’s unknown how much he was initially making at PSU.
A main point in the lawsuit suggests that Bream was initially given good reviews during years before Piazza’s death. However, after the fraternity hazing case, Green cited his alleged conduct at the fraternity house was reason to give him a poor review.
Bream feels his position at the fraternity shouldn’t have been taken into account for his review as a trainer.
But, DeBoef says his administrative status meant he could be held responsible.
“He held the position of Associate Athletic Director for all training services at Penn State, so he was actually in the athletic department as an administrator… someone who had responsibilities,” DeBoef said.
Responsibilities that a judge or jury could feel extends to the Beta Theta Pi Fraternity House.
“At this point it will just be up to both sides if they want to make a decision on if they want to settle something or go to trial,” DeBoef said.
Another main point brought up in Bream’s 88-page lawsuit is that Green, the person completing Bream’s review, does not have the healthcare expertise to give Bream a proper review as trainer.
DeBoef agreed, to a certain extent:
“They probably are not qualified to judge his ability as a trainer, that would require a doctor… but as far as his performance being Associate Athletic Director for the university, that’s exactly what they’re supposed to be doing.”
Bream says his first two yearly performance evaluations were completed with contributions from those with medical training, but after that, only Green conducted his review.
Discovered in Green’s review is that he Bream relayed to her that he was the house adviser or Beta Theta Pi.
As adviser, Bream was employed by the fraternity’s alumni corporation, not PSU.
Bream’s place in the Fraternity Hazing Case
Bream, a PSU alum, was in the Beta Theta Pi house on the night of Piazza’s falls. Bream testified in court that he was asleep that night and unaware of what had happened throughout the evening. He also said he had no knowledge of, nor did he approve of alcohol at fraternity events.
Video surveillance footage showed that Bream, around 5:00 a.m. walked through the hallway, approximately 10 feet from where Piazza was unconscious on the floor.
No criminal charges were filed against Bream in the fraternity hazing case.
Background on Bream
Bream served as athletic trainer for the Chicago Bears for 19 years before he heading to Penn State in 2012 for a job as Director of Athletic Training Services and Head Athletic Trainer for Football.
He was then promoted to Assistant Athletic Director overseeing training for all varsity sports.
Where is Bream now?
Bream is now director of sports medicine and an athletic trainer for men’s basketball at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
Penn State did not comment on the lawsuit he filed.