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KU Settles Age Discrimination Case Over IT Department's Instruction To Hire 'Mainly Millennials'

The EEOC sued last year over alleged age discrimination at the University of Kansas Medical Center.
The EEOC sued last year over alleged age discrimination at the University of Kansas Medical Center.

The University of Kansas has settled an age discrimination suit brought by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission last year after an employee was fired in retaliation for reporting on discriminatory hiring practices at the university’s medical center.

Under a consent decree filed last week, KU pledged not to discriminate against applicants or employees based on age and to pay Jeffrey Thomas, the employee who triggered the complaint, $144,000 in backpay and damages.

Thomas, an assistant associate director in the University of Kansas Medical Center’s information resources department, reported to human resources personnel that a top medical center official had instructed the department in 2014 to hire mainly millennials and young people for open positions.  

After Thomas made his report, the department was reorganized and his job was eliminated.

As part of the consent decree, KU is also being required to mail a letter of reference on behalf of Thomas noting that he was promoted to associate director of service in 2013 and received an award for his performance as a supervisor.

Thomas was employed by the medical center from July 2004 to December 2014.

KU spokeswoman Kay Hawes said in an email that while the university could not comment on the specifics of the case, "the University of Kansas Medical Center is committed to the inclusion of all members of our campus community."

"The university takes seriously its responsibility to prevent and eliminate discrimination as well as its commitment to protect against retaliation for those who voice a complaint," Hawes said. 

Dan Margolies is a senior reporter and editor at KCUR. You can reach him on Twitter @DanMargolies.

Copyright 2020 KCUR 89.3