Lawsuit against Chad Kelly, Argos includes new sexual harassment claims

Photo: Reuben Polansky/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

An amended statement of claim was filed by a former strength and conditioning coach against the Toronto Argonauts and Chad Kelly with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice on Tuesday, April 2.

In the latest document, the plaintiff claims Kelly is liable for sexual harassment in the workplace contrary to section 7 of the Ontario Human Rights Code. She stated Kelly engaged in a “campaign of harassment” including constant dating offers despite her consistently refusing his advances.

“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 lawsuit reads. “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.”

“This amendment is merely a procedural matter, and while we will not be addressing the process through the media, we look forward to our statement of defence speaking for itself,” Kelly’s agent, Chris Lambiris, said in a statement.

An addition titled ‘Bills Incident’ in the file obtained by 3DownNation outlines an alleged occurrence from October 2022, which stemmed from a discussion about attending NFL games that took place during a team stretch session outside BMO Field. Kelly allegedly told the plaintiff he has connections with the Buffalo Bills and can get tickets for himself, her, and teammates at any time and at no cost.

In the days leading up to the NFL game, Kelly was allegedly adamant about the group renting accommodations to stay for the night after the game. After telling him multiple times that she would make her own travel arrangements and return home right after the game, Kelly continued to try to get her to stay over.

The plaintiff sought approval from general manager Michael ‘Pinball’ Clemons to attend the game as an Argos representative and received it. Kelly was allegedly “visibly aggravated” when she told him she’d met with Clemons saying, “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?”

Shortly after, a co-worker told the plaintiff that while in the quarterback meeting room, Kelly allegedly yelled and cussed her name. According to the lawsuit, he revoked the free invitation to the Bills game and asked her to pay $500 USD for the tickets. She did not go to the game or pay Kelly any money.

She stated Kelly became “very adamant” toward the end of the 2023 season about “hanging out” outside work. When she refused, Kelly “visibly got mad and aggravated.” The lawsuit alleges that Kelly planned movie or dinner dates, but she declined. On one occasion, Kelly allegedly told her they would need only 30 minutes for a date, a comment that “took her aback.” She reminded Kelly they both had partners and his advances were unacceptable and unprofessional — she was not interested.

When she tried to address his behaviour, Kelly allegedly reacted violently and stated he “cannot wait” until she got fired. In a new statement, she pleads Kelly and the Argos are jointly viable for wrongful termination of her employment with the franchise, with damages estimated at approximately $85,714.28. She claims Kelly and the Argos are also liable for $10,000 in punitive damages.

Kelly’s lawyer, Nancy M. Shapiro from Koskie Minsky LLP, provided a statement: “We do not believe the claims made against Mr. Kelly have any merit and we are taking steps to defend the action.”

3DownNation asked for comment from the plaintiff’s lawyers, the Argonauts and their lawyer but did not receive a reply.

None of these new allegations have been tested in court, as remains the case with the original claims in the lawsuit initially filed on Wednesday, February 21. The Argonauts filed an intent to defend on Tuesday, February 27. Kelly released a statement on social media on Friday, March 1 denying the allegations, though it was deleted later that day.

CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie told the media in Vancouver on Thursday, February 29 the league hired an independent investigator to probe the allegations. The CFL will not be commenting until the investigation has been completed.

During the CFL Combine in Winnipeg, Clemons told the media that the Argos are preparing for Kelly to be the team’s starting quarterback this season. He and head coach Ryan Dinwiddie indicated they learned about the lawsuit at the same time as the public and are cooperating with the league’s investigation.

Justin Dunk is a football insider, sports reporter and anchor.