Former employee sues UC Board of Regents for alleged age, gender discrimination

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A former employee is suing the UC Board of Regents for alleged wrongful termination based on her age and gender.

Elisabeth Schmitt, who was employed by the UC system for 30 years, received continual promotions and positive performance reviews from supervisors, the lawsuit said. In April 2015, Schmitt was hired by the UC Board of Regents as a project policy analyst under the strategic academic and facilities planning division. Schmitt was terminated Jan. 29, 2018, however, for an alleged “lack of work,” although job openings afterward enlisted the role she had previously occupied as available.

“My client has a glowing career over 30 years with the University of California. However, only five days after her last complaint about sex discrimination, the university fired her,” said Sonya Mehta, the plaintiff’s lawyer. “This is a clear case of retaliation.”

UC spokesperson Janet Gilmore declined to comment, stating in an email that the regents have not yet been served with the complaint.

According to the lawsuit, Schmitt’s supervisor allegedly wrote negative and inaccurate performance reviews. Schmitt made several attempts to receive clarification from her supervisor who allegedly withheld “relevant and essential information” and allegedly attempted to confuse her through misdirection and lack of clarity, the lawsuit said

The plaintiff claimed in the lawsuit that her supervisor allegedly “discriminated, demeaned, and retaliated against her.”

As a result, Schmitt “lost compensation and benefits to which she was entitled and will lose such compensation and benefits in the future,” the lawsuit said, adding that Schmitt also “suffered from emotional distress, embarrassment and humiliation, and … damage to her professional reputation and standing.”

Schmitt complained to several human resources personnel regarding the discriminatory behavior that she and other women over the age of 40 allegedly experienced.

According to the lawsuit, Schmitt’s supervisor allegedly recommended that the university lay off other women over the age of 40, all of whom were replaced by women under 40.

Mehta said women have been discriminated against from the fight for equal pay to the movement to control their bodies, adding that many older women can experience workplace discrimination and job insecurity.

“I think my client is really brave for standing against (discrimination),” Mehta said.

Contact Sarah Chung at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @sarahchungdc.