Employment agreement case settled

by Andrew Tellijohn

Former University employee Pamela Young recently reached a settlement with University officials, who she claims breached an employment agreement between the parties.
After spending four years as a senior administrative director in then University President Nils Hasselmo’s office, Young will receive $51,330 under terms of the settlement.
She alleged the University breached oral and written agreements when she was not restored to an equivalent position after she left to complete a one-year job in the Department of Women’s Intercollegiate Athletics.
During that year she served as a special budget officer to women’s athletics director Chris Voelz. But when the position expired, she was never restored to any other University position.
Young’s attorney, Marshall H. Tanick, said the University could have acted more professionally in dealing with the employment issue.
The University failed twice in attempts to have the case dismissed and agreed to the settlement shortly before the case was to go to trial last month.
“The University did not handle her termination well,” Tanick said. “They probably could have settled the case early on for less than it ultimately cost them,” he said.
University General Counsel Mark Rotenberg said University officials feel they did nothing wrong.
“In no way does the settlement mean we believe her claim was viable,” he said. “In our view, there was no unlawful conduct by the University officials involved,” he said.
University officials maintain there was no promise of future employment and it would be against policy to issue any such guarantee.
Rotenberg added that in the years since the case was filed, many important people involved in the case have left the University. The cost of getting everyone back to testify made going to trial prohibitive, he said.
He also said the University often faces employment cases because the school is highly decentralized, and when employees see others being treated differently than themselves, they decide to try litigation.
But Tanick, who has been involved in dozens of cases involving the University, said the school brings some problems on itself.
“The University has taken a pretty hard line approach in employment matters,” he said. “It tends not to settle cases early on in the process.”
In this case, the outcome reflected a strong case against the University, Tanick said.
“Ms. Young is satisfied,” he said. “It was a successful settlement on her behalf.”