On April 30, 2010, Annette Wyandotte, former dean of the School of the Arts and Letters and associate professor of English at Indiana University Southeast, filed a complaint with the Indiana office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The charges were age discrimination and sex discrimination. Ms. Wyandotte was being forced to retire from her dean position on June 30, 2010.
Indiana University Southeast has a policy that requires individuals at an executive level to retire at the end of the academic year when they reach the age of 65. This may seem illegal based on the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, which protects employees over 40 from being forced out of their jobs. But section C12 of the Act states, “Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to prohibit compulsory retirement of any employee who has attained 65 years of age and who, for the 2-year period immediately before retirement, is employed in a bona fide executive or a high policymaking position, if such employee is entitled to an immediate nonforfeitable annual retirement benefit from a pension, profit-sharing, savings, or deferred compensation plan, or any combination of such plans, of the employer of such employee, which equals, in the aggregate, at least $44,000.” This section allows employers to require individuals in higher positions to retire at a certain age to promote turnover at upper executive levels.
Ms. Wyandotte, who is currently 67, was allowed to finish out her three-year term as dean. When her term was up, she was not recommended for another term as dean, despite a 33 to 1 vote by the department to reappoint her for another three years. The vice chancellor for academic affairs said she was denied another term based on the university policy. In addition to the age discrimination claim filed with the EEOC, Ms. Wyandotte also claimed sex discrimination because exceptions to this mandatory retirement policy were made for other individuals who were male.
In a settlement reached in August, Ms. Wyandotte was awarded $25,000 and was allowed to keep her current position of interim associate vice chancellor for the rest of the academic year. It was determined that section C12 of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act did not apply to her because she was not entitled to an annual pension of $44,000 or more upon retirement. Ms. Wyandotte did not seek to be placed back into the dean position because she is enjoying her current post and feels the woman who replaced her as dean is doing a good job.
Ms. Wyandotte hoped her claim would help change the university’s policy on requiring executives to retire at age 65, stating “IU should join the rest of the United States in being an enlightened campus that lives by it values.” But the policy still stands.
If you have questions regarding age discrimination or sex discrimination in the workplace, please contact Kentucky and Indiana employment attorneys Miller & Falkner.
IUS, Ex-dean Reach Settlement; The Courier-Journal; Harold Adams; September 24, 2011
Former Dean Files for Age, Sex Discrimination;
The Horizon Online; Leah Tate; August 2010
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967; EEOC