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EEOC Sues The University of Wisconsin System for Age Discrimination

State University Hired 23-Year-Old Over  Former Employee With 25 Years of Experience, Federal Agency Charges

MADISON, Wis. - The University of Wisconsin System violated  federal law when it refused to hire a former longtime employee because of her age,  the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit  filed.

According to the EEOC's lawsuit, Bambi Butzlaff Voss, who  was 53 years old and subject to a layoff from her job as a Marketing and  Communications Specialist at the University of Wisconsin's Waukesha campus,  applied for six different positions with the University of Wisconsin System's  central office in Madison, including an Associate Marketing and Communications  Specialist position. Butzlaff Voss had 25 years of experience performing tasks  similar, if not identical, to the ones in the position she applied for. But,  because of Butzlaff Voss's age, the University refused to hire her. Instead, it  hired a 23-year-old candidate with less than two years of experience.

Such alleged conduct violates the Age Discrimination in  Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA). The EEOC sued in U.S. District Court for the  Western District of Wisconsin (EEOC v. Board of Regents of the University of  Wisconsin System, Civil Action No: 3:18-cv-00602) after first trying to settle  through its conciliation process. The lawsuit asks the court to order the  University to hire Butzlaff Voss and provide back pay as well as pay liquidated  damages. The lawsuit also seeks a permanent injunction prohibiting the  University from discriminating against future candidates based on their age.

"The Age Discrimination in Employment Act has been on the  books for five decades," said Gregory Gochanour, regional attorney for the EEOC's  Chicago District. "The EEOC will make sure employers follow the law, even if it  means going to court to get the message across."

Julianne Bowman, district director of the EEOC's Chicago  District, said, "Workers over 40 years of age should have the same  opportunities as those workers less than half their age. Ignoring a candidate's  decades of experience relevant to the available job, because of her age, to hire  someone with less than two years of experience is illegal discrimination."

The EEOC's Chicago District is responsible for investigating  charges of employment discrimination, administrative enforcement, and the  conduct of agency litigation in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, North  Dakota, and South Dakota, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing  federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is  available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to  our email  updates.