Makalia Aga, a former employee of UC Berkeley who worked as an administrative assistant for the school's statistics department, recently filed a workplace discrimination and retaliation lawsuit alleging that she was terminated from her role after reporting age discrimination and race discrimination.
According to the suit, Aga had applied for an open Financial Services Analyst II position in the campus' statistics department, but was denied an interview despite having exceeded the minimum requirements for the role and filing an application on time.
Aga Was Terminated After Complaining about Unfair Hiring Practices
The lawsuit states that the former administrative assistant was terminated from her role within one month of complaining about UC Berkeley's statistics department's unfair hiring practices to the Office of the Vice Chancellor of Equity and Inclusion. According to the suit, a Caucasian worker was hired to perform Aga's duties.
Workplace Discrimination Lawsuit Alleges False Claims, Age Discrimination
The discrimination suit also alleges that Maria Torralba, Aga's former supervisor, had falsely claimed that Aga's job application had not been filed on time. The suit alleges that Torralba did this in order to avoid giving Aga an interview for the financial services analyst position.
According to the suit, upon filing a complaint about Torralba's false claim and confirming that she had actually applied on time, Aga was granted an interview for the position by Torralba. However, Torralba had already preselected another applicant, Kamini Iver, for the position.
Torralba also allegedly informed Aga that she wasn't a finalist for the interview because Aga did not have an accounting degree, and those who were finalists had accounting degrees. But Aga did in fact have an accounting degree and more than 20 years of experience in finance and accounting. The suit alleges that Iver, who was hired for the position, does not have an accounting degree, but an environmental sciences degree.
The discrimination suit also states that Iver only intended to temporarily work in the position. Thereafter, Torralba hired Keyla Gomez, a temporary employee to be trained by Iver. After a few months, Iver resigned and took a job that was more fitting for her career path. According to the suit, the cross-training of Gomez and Iver, plus the termination of Aga, all took place to ensure that Gomez would ultimately be picked for the position.
UC Berkeley May Have Violated California's Fair Employment and Housing Act
Aga's lawsuit states that the alleged unlawful behaviors by her employer violated the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). The FEHA prohibits discrimination due to an employee's age, race and other protected characteristics. It also prohibits employer retaliation against a worker for complaining about discrimination, harassment and unlawful business practices.
Article adapted from original: 'Campus administrative assistant sues UC Berkeley for alleged age, race discrimination' via DailyCal.org
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