Washington State University is planning to eliminate a job now held by a woman who is part of a federal class-action complaint saying the school discriminated against her and five others.
The school’s union said Thursday the move may be WSU’s way of getting back at Linda Snook, a supervisor in the Holland Library work area.
“It certainly can be viewed as retaliation for her filing the complaint,” said Leslie LiddleStamper, president of Washington Federation of State Employees Local 1066 and a party to the classaction complaint.
School officials were for the most part not commenting, but a library administrator denied retaliation is a factor.
“This process is a budget process,” said Donna McCool, the libraries’ associate director for administrative services. ‘It has nothing to do with anyone’s complaint.”
Provost Tom George said he had not heard about the library reshuffling until Thursday morning. “I can’t react because I just heard about it,” he said.
Snook is part of a pending complaint to the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs alleging the school discriminated against five staffers and one professor, then punished them for complaining about it.
According to the complaint, Snook and Liddle-Stamper were subjected to hostility, put-downs and the controlling behavior of a head librarian in the education library. At one point, the complaint says, the librarian physically barred Snook from leaving his office until she promised to say she was wrong to complain, which she refused to do.
The university human rights office concluded the two women were not sexually harassed and closed the case. Snook declined to comment Thursday.
When the women filed the complaint in November, they noted that Snook was slated to be laid off in case of cutbacks.
But after legislators this session limited cuts in state allocations to 2.4 percent, concerns about outright layoffs faded. Turnover and planned retirements were expected to account for the cuts.
Now, said Liddle-Stamper, it appears the administration is going back on George’s promise that “no warm bodies” - active employees - would lose jobs. The library plan calls for eliminating the positions of two employees in the Holland Library and two in the Owen Science and Engineering Library.
“Here are four warm bodies that are going to be eliminated,” Liddle-Stamper said. “There are people that are going to be on the street because of this.”
Snook has been given until Monday to decide from several options that include “bumping” other employees to lower positions. Liddle-Stamper didn’t elaborate on the positions or who holds them, but said as many as five people could be affected.
McCool said it is unclear if the rearranging will actually cost someone a job.
She also said the libraries had no choice but to cut personnel, since the library has few equipment costs. “Our budget is so lean the only place we can find large amounts of money is staffing costs,” she said.
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