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.

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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Interesting story..."I am going to replace this one with a woman."...and yet this is one of those alleged statements by who? If she did make the statement and the statement was made of interviewing several people and the most qualified person was a female...then what is wrong with the statement? In the end, she wasn't make the replacement. It is my understanding the board of trustees made the replacement and mandated his retirement. I don't think there are too many women on that board at Purdue.

The article fails to mention that Cordova had the same terms in her contract and that she too was "forced" out the same year at age 65 per the terms of her contract. Apparently, she understood the "written" contract. It would have been a neglect of duty on the part of the Purdue administration not to be seeking out a replacement since everyone knew and understood the contract language other than Wartell.

In the end, Wartell''s $236,000 "pension" exceeds 99.8 percent of Americans. In the end, his greedy efforts cost the present day students....in the end, this tarnishes the school. This was not about "white male" vs. female...it was simply the terms called for in each of their contracts. Cordova apparently can read...Wartell may be able to read...but was not able to comprehend.

By the way, I am a white male and I do feel that we are too often getting a raw deal in the name of equality. This just isn't one of those cases.

September 09 2014 at 3:15 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to racewme's comment

I learned a little more about this case too. Wartell agreed to use an arbitrator and apparently didn't like the decision and wanted a do-over. If Wartell is such a genius, why did he agree to abide by the decision of this arbitrator? In today's world, he should have performed a little discovery work to learn about the arbitrator before agreeing to abide by this guy's decision. Wouldn't a competent professional have done a little preparation? Wartell had a written contract to retire at specific age and signed that contract. He had another signed agreement to abide by the decision of this arbitrator. This guy needs to understand that when he signs something that it doesn't allow for do overs. To still be receiving over 200k in retirement is hitting it out of the park. Good for him for having that success. If I were him, I would be laughing all the way to the bank and let it go. He had a great run and signed a couple of contracts. The board of trustees had every right to terminate his employment at the end of his contract. (the age thing is goofy...but, he agreed to those requirements)

If I were Purdue/IPFW, I would serve up massive legal action toward Wartell as his efforts are hurting the image of the school.

September 10 2014 at 12:34 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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

He is also white and a male. Enough said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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