WILLIAMSTOWN, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — A referee who was heavily criticized for telling a New Jersey high school wrestler to cut his dreadlocks or forfeit his match has taken a step toward filing a defamation lawsuit.

The tort claim notice sent by referee Alan Maloney to a dozen possible defendants – including the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association – alleges $100,000 in damages, defamation of character, and emotional distress.

A widely circulated video showed the wrestler’s hair being haphazardly cut on the sidelines.

FLASHBACK: Referee Facing Charges Of Racism After Forcing NJ High School Wrestler To Cut Dreadlocks Or Forfeit Match

Maloney says he did nothing wrong and claims Buena Regional High School wrestler Andrew Johnson’s hair length violated the sport’s rules. Maloney has not reffed a wrestling match since the controversy on Dec. 19.

A New Jersey referee cuts off a wrestler’s dreadlocks for allegedly violating the high school sports dress code. (Credit: CBS2)

The referee has reportedly been barred from officiating pending investigations by state civil rights and interscholastic athletic association officials.

The legal claim preserves Maloney’s right to a possible lawsuit.

(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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