The alleged demotion of a white university administrator from a diversity-related post has prompted a lawsuit by the official against her alma mater, the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire.
In a federal complaint, Rochelle Hoffman claimed earlier this month that she was sidelined due to her race. A hostile work environment was asserted in the lawsuit. The plaintiff claimed that she endured persistent racial harassment and hostile work environments while employed there.
The complaint names the chancellor, Jim Schmidt, and the assistant chancellor for DEI, Teresa O’Halloran, as the defendants.
The school’s Multicultural Student Services office reportedly forced Hoffman to quit her temporary director role last year.
Allegedly, students were taken aback by the appointment of Hoffman, a white woman, to the job.
The complaint states that a student questioned Olga Diaz, the former vice chancellor for equity, diversity, and inclusion, as well as student affairs, about hiring a white woman as interim director.
It was alleged in the lawsuit that another student cast doubt on Hoffman’s credentials by using language based on socialist themes.
The student posed the question to Hoffman, asking if white staff members could be as productive in a minority-serving environment as a person of color.
According to the plaintiff, she was let go from her position as a classroom teacher after filing a complaint over the matter.
The lawsuit claims that “students, teachers, and staff rejected her selection as Interim Director of MSS purely because she was white,” even though Hoffman had exceptional credentials for the position. While employed at Blugold Beginnings and Multicultural Student Services, Hoffman’s performance reviews were marked as “Outstanding” and “exceeding expectations.”
The only thing that mattered was that Hoffman was white; the criticism centered on her ethnicity and color rather than her credentials.
Currently serving as the university’s senior academic advising coordinator, Hoffman filed a lawsuit against her employer on December 14 in Wisconsin’s Western District.