United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
OPINION AND ORDER
D. Peterson District Judge.
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission brought this suit on
behalf of Bambi Butzlaff Voss, who worked as a university
services program associate for defendant Board of Regents of
the University of Wisconsin System until she was laid off in
May 2016. EEOC alleges that the Board rejected Butzlaff
Voss's application for another position because of her
age, in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment
Board has filed a motion for summary judgment, which the
court will deny. Although EEOC hasn't presented any
evidence directly pointing to age bias, it has adduced
evidence that Butzlaff Voss was significantly more qualified
than the Board's chosen applicant (who is 30 years
younger than Butzlaff Voss) and that the subjective, vague
reasons the Board gave for its decision are pretexts. That is
enough to show a genuine issue of material fact, see
Fed. R. Civ. P. 56, so EEOC is entitled to present its claim
to a jury.
following facts are undisputed, unless otherwise noted.
Butzlaff Voss was a university services program associate in
the marketing department at UW-Waukesha, which is one of 13
two-year campuses around the state. Collectively, these
campuses are called UW Colleges and are part of the
University of Wisconsin System.
services program associate, Butzlaff Voss was responsible for
assisting in the development of campus printed-materials and
website maintenance; serving as the campus public information
officer; planning campus events; serving as campus liaison to
UW-Waukesha alumni and friends; hiring, training, and
supervising student employees to assist with departmental
projects; and assisting with other campus and departmental
activities as needed. Butzlaff Voss says that she performed
additional duties as well, including running the marketing
department when the director position was vacant, writing
news releases, developing education ads, designing online
promotional materials, editing videos, managing the website
and social media, videotaping student interviews, archiving,
and building relationships with high school counselors.
2015, in response to budget cuts, UW Colleges consolidated
its marketing departments from its 13 campuses into one
centralized office. Butzlaff Voss's position was
identified as one of 13 positions that would be eliminated
due to the centralization of marketing and communications.
Butzlaff Voss and the employees identified for lay off were
invited to apply for any of the seven positions that were
then available in the centralized office.
Voss selected four of the seven positions, including the
associate marketing and communications specialist position,
which was an entry-level position. She was 53 years old at
the time. She had 26 years of experience working in the UW
system and 37 years of experience in the field of
communications and marketing.
six-person committee conducted the recruiting process. Rodee
Schneider (the associate director of marketing for UW
Colleges) was the chair of the committee, which also included
Vicki Keegan (the director of the marketing department). The
committee decided to interview all of the internal candidates
before considering outside applicants.
committee interviewed Butzlaff Voss between January 28 and
30, 2016. She was not selected for any of the positions she
requested. The committee members unanimously agreed not to
choose Butzlaff Voss, but Schneider made the final decision.
The committee also rejected the other internal candidates who
applied for the position.
associate marketing and communications specialist position
was reposted and this time outside candidates were allowed to
apply. Again, Schneider was the chair of the recruitment
committee. Butzlaff Voss submitted another application in
response to the outside job posting, but she was not
committee selected five finalists for an interview, including
IF, who was 23 years old at the time. IF had been working as a
student intern for marketing at UW Colleges for approximately
two months. She worked at central marketing and Schneider
supervised her. Before working for UW Colleges, she had 11
months of experience in the field of communications and
finalists included HH, MO, SN, and SK. HH graduated from
college in 2013, had no more than one year of experience
working as an intern in the UW system, and had no more than
one year of professional experience in the field of
communications and marketing. MO graduated from college in
2013, had no experience working in the UW system, and one
year of professional experience in the field of
communications and marketing. SN graduated from college in
2013 and had no experience working in the UW system. ...