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Published September 28, 2018
The University of Wyoming has asked a federal court to dismiss a discrimination lawsuit against UW and the UW Foundation, arguing no evidence has been presented that a former staff member lost her job for reasons other than necessary reorganization resulting from budget reductions.
The university this week filed its detailed memorandum in support of its motion for summary judgment in the lawsuit filed by former UW employee Mandy Davis, who claimed the 2015 elimination of her job as the foundation’s human resources business manager was retaliatory.
“The defendants have put forth undisputed evidence of a legitimate, non-discriminatory reorganization, brought on by budgetary mandates issued not only outside the Division, but outside the University,” the document reads.
The reorganization of the UW Foundation staff was a result of a state budget shortfall starting in fall 2014, stemming from the steep decline in Wyoming’s economy. The reorganization -- which was approved by UW’s president and director of human resources -- resulted in the elimination of Davis’ position and seven others, four of which were vacant at the time.
Davis filed two internal complaints against the UW Foundation, alleging discrimination and retaliation because she reported alleged discriminatory behavior by the foundation against another foundation employee. The university’s internal investigative unit thoroughly investigated and found no evidence of discrimination.
Davis then filed a discrimination and retaliation complaint with the Labor Standards Office of the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services. After another thorough investigation, the university filed a response stating that Davis had failed to show that the decision to eliminate her position was discriminatory. The Department of Workforce Services dismissed the complaint in November 2016, stating there was no reasonable cause to conclude that the university engaged in discriminatory acts detrimental to Davis.
In January 2017, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission adopted the findings of the state Department of Workforce Services, providing Davis with a standard “right to sue” letter. She filed her lawsuit in U.S. District Court in March 2017.
Davis was retrenched to another human resources position at the university in spring 2016, and she continued to work for UW until April 2018, when she took a job in the private sector. Contrary to Davis’ allegations, the UW Foundation employee mentioned in Davis’s lawsuit has worked for the foundation for several years and continues to be a much-valued and appreciated employee.