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PRESS RELEASE
3-13-20

University of Kansas to Pay $144,000 to Settle EEOC Retaliation Discrimination Lawsuit

Federal Agency Charged University's Medical Center Fired Manager for Reporting Age Discrimination

ST. LOUIS - The University of Kansas will pay $144,000 and furnish other relief to settle a retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.

According to the EEOC's lawsuit, the University of Kansas Medical Center (KUMC) fired a manager in its Information Resources Department after he complained that his boss had directed super­visors and managers to recruit and hire young people, particularly millennials. The manager noted that a highly qualified 60-year-old applicant for a computer programmer position was rejected solely because of her age.

Such alleged conduct violates the anti-retaliation provisions of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), which prohibits employers from taking adverse employment actions against individuals who engage in protected activity, including opposing what they believe to be unlawful age discrimination against themselves, other employees or job applicants. The EEOC filed its lawsuit in September 2019 (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. University of Kansas, Civil Action No. 2:19-cv-02540), in U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

The three-year consent decree settling the suit, entered by Judge Daniel D. Crabtree, requires the University of Kansas to pay lost wages and liquidated damages to the manager. In addition, the university and KUMC will take key steps to prevent discrimination or retaliation against management employees in the future. Actions include implementing and maintaining stronger non-discrimination and non-retaliation policies and procedures; providing detailed training about age discrimination and retaliation to manage­ment, human resources, and other employees; issuing clear guidance to employees prohibiting age dis­crimination and retaliation; and reporting complaints about age discrimination and retaliation to the EEOC.

"Workers who oppose discriminatory employment policies, decisions, and actions on the job should be praised, not punished," said Andrea G. Baran, the EEOC's regional attorney in St. Louis. "KU and KUMC have taken many positive steps to attempt to prevent age discrimination and retaliation against employees and job applicants who have the courage to report or oppose practices or decisions which they believe to be discriminatory, including implementing comprehensive non-discrimination policies, pro­cedures and training."

The EEOC's St. Louis District director, L. Jack Vasquez, added, "We are glad the university recognizes that employers cannot fire, demote, refuse to hire or take other negative actions against employees and job applicants who raise good-faith concerns about what they think is unlawful age discrimination."

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. The St. Louis District Office oversees Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and a portion of southern Illinois.

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.