Crime & Courts

Former employee claims Wichita State discriminated, retaliated after she reported it

A former Wichita State employee claims the school discriminated based on her sex and then retaliated after she reported it, according to a lawsuit filed in federal court.

Sheila Bates, 57, a former custodial supervisor in the physical plant, started working at Wichita State University in 2002.

During the 16 years she worked at the university, she was passed up for promotions six or seven times, the lawsuit says.

“Every time she was turned down for a promotion, it was to a less qualified male candidate,” the lawsuit says.

Wichita State officials did not comment on the lawsuit, which was filed in the Kansas District Court on Thursday.

“From what I understand, we haven’t been served notice yet of the lawsuit,” said Joe Kleinsasser, WSU spokesman. “We typically don’t comment on personnel matters.”

The most recent promotion Bates was passed up for was in June 2018, she said in the lawsuit. That’s when Wichita State created two new custodial manager positions in the physical plant that paid $4 an hour more than Bates’ salary at the time.

Bates applied for the new positions but was not hired. Instead, Wichita State hired two men with less experience than her, she says in the lawsuit.

Bates had just trained one of the men the university hired over her, she says in the lawsuit. And he had a “police record” for verbally harassing two employees, including a supervisor and a female employee, according to the lawsuit.

Two weeks after two men were hired instead of her, Bates filed a complaint with Wichita State’s human resources department.

That’s when she claims she was retaliated against, according to the suit.

“Immediately after she made her complaint, from about June 27, 2018 to approximately August 14, 2018, she was subjected to disparate treatment compared to similar situated employees, in that she was treated less favorably,” the lawsuit says.

Bates is seeking more than $75,000 in damages and attorney fees. She’s requesting a jury trial.