A Sacramento State employee has sued the university, alleging that supervisors discriminated against him because he is an older, white male.
Human resources analyst Robert Bartley, 58, alleges in a lawsuit that he was passed up for promotions and eventually demoted because department supervisors wanted to hire younger, minority women instead. He alleges that in the process, he was micromanaged, scrutinized and subjected to humiliation and harassment.
Bartley, who continues to work at California State University, Sacramento, is asking for unspecified damages, attorneys fees and the assurance he won’t be the subject of continued age, race or gender discrimination, according to the lawsuit.
“Employees should have the right to be treated with dignity and respect at their work and not singled out based upon their age, gender, national origin or any other characteristic,” said Bartley’s attorney, Robert Bowman, in a prepared statement. “When discrimination is evident we intend to show it to a jury if necessary.”
Sacramento State officials say the allegations are unfounded.
“The university strongly denies the allegations of the complaint,” said Jill Peterson, legal counsel for Sacramento State. “There is no evidence to support these baseless claims.”
Peterson said a complaint filed by Bartley was investigated by an outside independent investigator, who concluded there was no merit to the allegations.
Bartley was hired by the university as an administrative analyst in 2002. He applied for a management position in 2014, but the university hired another candidate instead.
He contends that he was demoted immediately after he complained that the woman hired was less qualified. His supervisors investigated the hiring process and deemed it fair, according to the suit.
The suit also alleges that department managers manipulated job descriptions to keep Bartley from being promoted and that his employee orientation and recruiting responsibilities were given to employees who better fit management’s ideal of who should represent the university.
Bartley alleges that the new hire, Carla Almeida, was instructed to force him out, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit includes as an exhibit a July 2, 2015, letter from Almeida to Christine Lovely, vice president of the human resources department. In the letter, Almeida asked to be reinstated after being removed from her position.
Almeida wrote that Veronica Hodge, assistant vice president of human resources, “was out to get rid of Bob Bartley, as she told me numerous times by any means she could.” The letter said Hodge wanted a new image in human resources – “young, polished and preferably a person of color.”
The letter went on to say that Hodge directed her to discipline, document and “push” Bartley on the smallest infractions. “AVP Hodge went so far as to give me the script of what to say and what to write to Bob Bartley,” Almeida wrote.
Hodge denies Bartley’s claims.
“I have and will continue to work professionally with him, as he has been an essential part of my team,” she said.
Peterson, the university attorney, also denies Almeida’s allegations in the letter.
“At no time was Ms. Almeida instructed to discriminate against Mr. Bartley, nor did she ever report any such discrimination was occurring prior to writing her letter, which was a request for reconsideration of the University’s decision to remove her from her position,” Peterson said.
Almeida, who no longer works at the university, could not be reached for comment.