‘Old White Man’ Wins $1.8 Million for Job Discrimination

A former Wisconsin state official won $1.8 million, claiming his boss transferred him to a job 110 miles from his home in order rid the agency of “old white men” and for supporting another worker’s discrimination complaint.

Gary Wistrom was an assistant administrator at the state Department of Veteran Affairs. He signed an affidavit in 2010 saying he attended a meeting in which his boss, Ken Black, who is African-American, made a remark about purging “old white men” from the agency. Wistrom’s affidavit was signed to support a coworker’s lawsuit claiming Black fired him because he was white.

Days later, Wistrom was transferred to a faraway location without explanation, according to his lawsuit.

Instead of making a 216-mile round-trip commute, Wistrom who is 60 and has a disability that made driving painful, retired and sued for job bias.

His attorney, Peter Fox, argued Black facilitated the transfer to retaliate against Wistrom for the affidavit and to get rid of an older, white, disabled employee.

Black resigned as secretary of the agency in April 2011, but denied race or age played any role in his personnel decisions.

Attorney Peter Fox

The jury sided with Wistrom, awarding him $1.8 million in compensatory and punitive damages.

Fox, who also represented the coworker for whom Wistrom signed the affidavit, settled that case with the state for $180,000.

A lawsuit by a third state employee who claimed he was passed over by Black for a promotion in the communications department of the Wisconsin National Guard settled his state and federal discrimination lawsuits for $282,500.

“This truly was not a suit brought for money,” said his attorney, Mike Fox. “It was brought because the law had been violated.”

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