EEOC Charges University of Wisconsin System With Age Bias

The agency accuses the system of passing over a 53-year-old with 25 years’ experience to hire a 23-year-old with less than two years’ experience.

As many individuals need to work as long as they can before retiring, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is focused on eliminating age discrimination in employment.

The agency charged in a lawsuit that the University of Wisconsin System violated federal law when it refused to hire a former longtime employee because of her age.

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 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 those required by the job she applied for.

But, because of Butzlaff Voss’s age, the university refused to hire her, the suit contends, noting that, instead, it hired a 23-year-old candidate with less than two years’ experience.

The agency points out that 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 suit also seeks a permanent injunction prohibiting the university from discriminating against future candidates based on their age.

Asked for comment, the University of Wisconsin System said it is its “standard practice not to comment on ongoing litigation.”