Mary Ann Garman, the UW Foundation’s vice president for financial services, claims she’s been put on administrative leave in retaliation for being a witness against UW Foundation CEO Ben Blalock.
Garman was put on administrative leave this year after giving a deposition in a lawsuit, in which she said she had “a feeling” Blalock terminated the employment of Mandy Davis, the Foundation’s former HR director, in retaliation for Davis filing a discrimination complaint against Blalock.
Garman has since filed a hostile work environment and retaliation claim with UW.
That claim became public Tuesday, when its details were included in a court filing in the lawsuit from Davis.
The lawsuit stems from a June 2015 incident, when Davis hired an employee — the most qualified candidate — who had an apparent physical disability. Blalock apparently took issue with the hiring and Davis was allegedly told to not hire another “retard.”
The lawsuit’s defendants denied that claim.
Davis filed a discrimination complaint, and six months later, Davis was laid off as part of a Foundation reorganization, which followed a university-wide hiring freeze initiated by former UW President Dick McGinity amid Wyoming’s economic downturn.
Mary Ann Garman, the Foundation’s vice president for financial services, said in a deposition that Blalock stressed Davis couldn’t be trusted shortly after the discrimination complaint was filed.
Garman testified that while in an elevator at work in October 2015, Blalock told Garman that Davis had “turned them in.”
While Blalock testified the reorganization decisions — including the decision to eliminate Davis’s position — were made as a group by the Foundation’s senior leadership team, Garman testified Blalock apparently unilaterally made the decision before she was informed at a meeting held Nov. 6, 2015.
“I don’t know for positive who made the decision,” she testified. “All I know was I learned about this when I went into this meeting.”
Garman testified she had “a feeling” Davis was included in the reorganization because of the discrimination claim.
A trial in the case is set to begin Feb. 11.
On Nov. 13, attorneys for UW filed a motion which asks that information related to Garman’s employment status and the “underlying basis for the employment dispute” to be barred from being used as evidence.
“In the years before and since the elimination of (Davis’s) position, the division has been part to some employment disputes,” UW attorneys stated. “To allow evidence regarding the employment status of current and former division employees, and employment disputes they may have, and the underlying basis for those disputes would only cause confusion of the issues, mislead the jury, cause undue delay, and is a complete waste of time. It would also cause the disclosure of highly confidential personnel information and divulge employment issues completely unrelated to the case at bar.”
Megan Hayes, who represents Davis, said in a Tuesday filing that Garman’s retaliation claims are relevant because they “arise in part from her association with Ms. Davis and her protected activity as a deponent in this lawsuit.”
Hayes noted Garman’s retaliation claims allege the move to put her on administrative leave “relates directly to her participation in Davis’s complaint, including her deposition taken in this case on June 18.”
“Because the protected activity on which Ms. Garman has asserted her retaliation claim arises in part from her participation as a witness in this lawsuit, Ms. Davis contends this establishes a pattern of retaliatory behavior by defendant Blalock against employees who challenge his authority and veracity,” Hayes wrote.