Referee Who Forced Black Wrestler to Cut Dreads Will File Lawsuit

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The NJ ref who forced a Black student to cut his dreads will file a lawsuit alleging emotional distress and character defamation.

By Jessica Bennett, Ebony

The New Jersey referee who forced a Black student to cut his dreadlocks or face disqualification from a Buena Regional High School wrestling match claims he’s suffered significant financial loss due to the backlash he has received. He’s now taken the first steps in filing a lawsuit for $100,000, alleging emotional distress and character defamation.

PHILLY reports referee Alan Maloney alleges in a notice of tort claim sent to 12 possible defendants that he can no longer find work due to the incident where he demanded teen wrestler Andrew Johnson cut his hair before competing. He reportedly has not been scheduled to officiate since the controversial December match and is barred from doing so until investigations into the ordeal are resolved.

Maloney also defends his actions during the wrestling match in the claim, believing Johnson violated the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association’s rules concerning hair and did not have a legally sanctioned hair covering. He also claims the proper time — 90 seconds — was given for Johnson to correct the problem.

“I think he’s just covering his bases,” said Dominic Speziali, a Philadelphia lawyer who represents Johnson and his family. “To the extent that he plans to file a claim as a victim in this incident is outright absurd.”

This article originally appeared in Ebony.

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