SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – A little over a month after being fired by Real Salt Lake, former head coach Mike Petke is suing the team for $700,000 of salary he says he is owed.
The lawsuit claims that RSL owner Dell Loy Hansen broke a legally binding promise that was part of an amendment to the coach’s contract.
Petke was fired on August 11th after serving a 3-game suspension for alleged homophobic charged comments he made to a referee following RSL’s loss to Tigres UANL at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Petke was suspended three games and fined $25,000 for the incident, but was terminated the week he was scheduled to return to the team.
Petke was 18 months into a 3-year contract, and claims the team owes him his salary for the remainder of 2019 and all of 2020.
A statement was released to the media by the law firm Bailey Brauer PLLC:
Mr. Petke’s dismissal followed a two-week suspension related to his actions in an incident with an international official following a Leagues Cup match. RSL also levied additional sanctions, which were outlined in a contract amendment signed by the coach and RSL leadership. Although the amendment expressly stipulates that future infractions could result in his dismissal, RSL removed Mr. Petke as coach the day before he was scheduled to return to the team.
“The amendment was clear about what club leaders expected of Mike. He was following that amendment to the letter and looking forward to returning to his team when he was blindsided by ownership,” said Petke’s attorney, Claytopn Bailey of Dallas’ Bailey Brauer PLLC. “The decision was announced in a way calculated to damage his reputation, not just as a coach, but also personally. Refusing to pay the remainder of his salary is a move designed to inflict additional, unwarranted economic damage.”
“What happened here is fairly simple. RSL owner Dell Loy Hansen was recorded contradicting the agreement while speaking to another team’s fans, became embarrassed, and later fired Mike when he had no business doing so,” said Cheyenne, Wyoming, attorney Travis Koch of Overstreet Homar & Kuker.
Real Salt Lake released the following statement:
“Real Salt Lake is aware of the lawsuit filed by former head coach Mike Petke. As previously reported by RSL, Mr. Petke’s employment was terminated for cause based upon statements and actions that are unbecoming of RSL representatives, especially our head coach. The organization stands firmly behind that difficult decision.”
The club will have no further comment on this pending litigation.