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Former college worker wins workplace discrimination suit

An out-of-state woman recently won a discrimination claim against her former employer in that jurisdiction, a local college. Her workplace discrimination lawsuit accused the college of engaging in discriminatory practices when hiring and paying senior administrators. She alleged that she was underpaid because of her age and gender, and that complaints about this ultimately led to her termination. Unfortunately, this type of retaliation still occurs in Wisconsin.

In Sept. 2005, she was hired as the vice president for student development, putting in her a senior administrator position. The following year, the college combined that position with the position of enrollment manager, giving her more responsibilities and the new job title of vice president for development and enrollment management. However, these positions were again divided in 2013, and while she apparently maintained enrollment management responsibilities, the college hired someone new to take over as VP for student development.

The new hire was a younger male who, despite having no relevant experience, was hired with a starting salary $22,227 higher than what she had earned. She complained about the salary discrepancies in 2014, and soon after was reassigned and stripped of certain duties. Subsequent meetings with the former president of the college apparently included false accusations of complaints regarding her job performance, and she was strongly encouraged to resign to prevent any embarrassment.

In Aug. 2015, the college hit back at the woman by reducing her annual salary 25 percent. Soon after, she was approached by a male colleague who said senior staff encouraged him to make complaints regarding her performance. She was ultimately fired without reason in 2016.

Her suit claimed that multiple male colleagues earned significantly more than she did, and that the college routinely engaged in instances of toxic workplace discrimination. The court agreed with her claims, and she was awarded $250,000 for related damages. While the resulting compensation will undoubtedly play an important role in her life going forward, successfully pursuing discrimination suits can also help implement policies that create a better future for all Wisconsin employees.

Source: theintermountain.com, "Judgment entered in WVWC lawsuit", Sarah Goodrich, Jan. 9, 2018

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