Was He Fired For Being A Man?

Michael WartellLots of workplaces are making concerted efforts to recruit women and minorities. But that pursuit of diversity can sometimes step on the wrong side of the law. That's what the the former chancellor of a major Indiana university is claiming. According to his lawsuit, reported by INC Now, he was forced out at the retirement age of 65, and replaced by a woman just a year younger.

For 19 years, Michael Wartell served as the chancellor of Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, the fifth largest public university in Indiana. During his reign, the longest in the university's history, Wartell led the university to some great achievements: 25 new buildings, a 150 percent increase in enrollment, and NCAA Division 1 status in athletics. The university even honored Wartell with a Champion of Diversity Award. So he was a little surprised when he was asked to step down in 2012.

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Purdue has a policy that all high-level administrators must retire at 65, but Wartell's lawsuit claims that exceptions have always been granted to anyone who requests it, except for him. "... it's not a policy, because they've only used it on one person," Wartell's attorney Mark Ulmschneider told The Journal Gazette, "and it was the one person they shouldn't have done it to because he was doing his job too well."

More: White Male Worker Wins $300,000 In Reverse Discrimination Suit

Wartell, who now has the title of chancellor emeritus, with a chancellor's salary of $236,000, reported the Journal-Gazette, thinks he knows why the university decided to enforce the rule with him: University President France Córdova wanted to replace him with a woman. And Wartell was replaced with a woman, Vicky Carwein, who is just a year younger. Wartell's lawsuit states that Córdova specifically said in a meeting that she wanted to hire more women, and pointed to a picture of Wartell, stating explicitly: "I am going to replace this one with a woman."

Wartell filed a complaint of discrimination and harassment against the university, and so Purdue hired an investigator to examine Wartell's complaint and present his findings to a board of trustees. A year ago, the board found the university had not violated its discrimination policy. But Purdue refused to let Wartell see a copy of the investigation, the lawsuit states, claiming the investigator was not an independent party, but the university's attorney -- and so did not have to disclose any documents.

Now, Wartell's suing the university, its 10-member board of trustees, and its vice president of ethics and compliance, for four counts of gender discrimination, violations of his due process rights, and breach of contract. Cordova, the president Wartell is accusing of bias, left Purdue last year to head the Smithsonian Institution, and was replaced by former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels.

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Claire Gordon

Staff Writer

Claire Gordon has contributed to Slate's DoubleX, the Huffington Post, and the book Prisons: Current Controversies. While an undergraduate at Yale University and a research fellow at Yale graduate school, she spoke on panels at Yale and Cornell, and reported from Cairo, Tokyo, and Berlin.

Follow Claire on Twitter. Email Claire at claire.gordon@teamaol.com. Add Claire to your Google+ circles.

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toddisit

Discrimination is always going to be around as long as there are humans making decisions.

April 25 2013 at 4:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
bharrison777

He is also white and a male. Enough said.

April 25 2013 at 3:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
pdgrovebaskets

I agree with this case here. Sadly in this country people just can't do things without going to the extremes with them. It doesn't matter what it is, everyone always goes WAY overboard and goes too far with things. The same thing has happened with the "minority" hiring. People no longer can be hired or fired based on their abilities and qualifications, far too often the positions are given based on whether minority quotas have been met. That's NOT what this concept was ever intended to do. It this case it shows the people who are doing the hiring and firing at this University probably don't have the intelligence they're expecting of their students because to ask someone to step down and feed them a line that it's because of their age and then hire their replacement who is just ONE year younger was just an incredibly STUPID move on their part. Brain cells were not working that day. If she were a young "pretty thing" I would have said she got the job for another reason, but at her age I have my doubts about this. This was just a very odd thing to do. I hope he wins this suit. Oh I'm sure he doesn't want the job back now, he just wants the satisfaction of being told he was right. THE one type of person most often now in the United States who is discriminated against in the workforce is the middle age white male. Many times if he's up against minorities he doesn't have a prayer. Often he may very well be the most qualified, but employers are so afraid of lawsuits they're hire less qualified people just to avoid one. This time it backfired.

April 25 2013 at 10:25 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Hi

As a white male fast approaching the age of 65, I hope he gets full consideration and that all records are opened to determine the truth. If the facts are as printed in the article, he should have been granted the extension to continue working and the ex-president of the University should be made to face the consequences of HER discriminatory practices.

April 25 2013 at 9:19 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Rick

He doesn't have a chance to win. He isn't a female, a person of color or a homosexual.

April 24 2013 at 1:24 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
mike_a_hernandez

He'll win.

April 13 2013 at 4:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jill Hover

This is common practice at his former institution and the one next to it. I know quite a few hard working, white males who had wonderful accomplishments during their tenure at these institutions for more than a decade who were forced out of jobs like this. It's been a fairly open policy since at least 2009. And btw, most of the males forced out did NOT receive good settlements. At least one committed suicide. Where is the federal investigation and the media attention to this? If he were female, this would be HUGE!

April 12 2013 at 10:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Rocky

I am glad to see this report and sad that it happened. I believe, however, that it is true and totally relevant. In many, many areas, the Caucasian male, particularly those who are a bit older, or in "non-traditional" roles, are the minority. I wish all the statisticians and poll-takers would put their skills, numbers, and conclusions to better use. It is increasingly frustrating to constantly hear about "diversity." I believe in diversity within academia and other "areas," but am sick of hearing, seeing, and reading about the oppression of women and "minorities." There has been a significant shift in the paradigm, and it is time we all wake up and realize that "diversity" and "equal rights" both include white, middle-aged men.

April 06 2013 at 7:45 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Steve

A Caucasian male? what rights does HE have..... this is typical academia. I've sat on search committees where the liberal affrirmative action HR director told us that we OWED people of color in person interviews. So this is not a surprise...

April 06 2013 at 7:22 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
hman570

Time men started stand up for their rights. Hope he gets a bundle.

April 06 2013 at 7:00 AM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply

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