Aims Community College was recently hit with three lawsuits alleging gender discrimination and sexual harassment.
It’s only February and already Aims Community College in Greeley has been hit with three lawsuits over gender discrimination/sexual harassment allegations. All of the lawsuits involve staff and students claiming the school is guilty of employment discrimination, “violations of equal pay acts, and, in the case filed by students, distress caused by verbal and physical sexual harassment.”
One of the suits was filed by former associate vice president of academic affairs, Patricia Rand. The case was filed in Weld County District Court over claims that, “after 16 years at the college, she was forced to resign Sept. 8, 2021, because of continuing constant gender discrimination and a hostile work environment.” She’s represented by Kelli Riley, who wrote that “immediately after reporting the hostile work environment she faced retaliation from her supervisor, Russ Rothamer, an executive vice president.” Eventually, Rand discovered that she was “being paid less than less experienced, less qualified men performing similar work.”
Sarah Wyscaver, vice president of student engagement, inclusion, and success, also filed a lawsuit earlier this year alleging gender discrimination. She claims she was paid less than her male counterparts and alleged “violations of state and federal equal pay acts.”
Last month, four female students also filed a lawsuit against the school in U.S. District Court. In addition to the school, the suit also names instructor David Hackmann as a defendant. All of the students are part of the radiology technology program and include Tinisha Sasso, Amanda Prout, Melanie Summers, and Jona Peters. According to their allegations, Hackmann “used his position as an instructor to inappropriately touch them in crotch and genital areas when teaching how to position patients for X-rays.” On top of that, he allegedly “engaged in inappropriate sexual language and behavior, sometimes observed by others.” Some of that inappropriate behavior included “fake choking, approaching from behind and positioning his groin against the students’ buttocks, hugging without consent, and attempting or sometimes requiring personal contact outside of the classroom.”
When the students complained to the department chair or other professors, they were ignored, the suit states. As a result, the lawsuit accuses the school of violating “Title IX of the Education Act of 1972 and sexual harassment and hostile environment violations of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.” The students are seeking damages and a jury trial.
When commenting on the lawsuits, Zachary McFarlane, executive director of marketing and communications, said:
“Aims takes claims of discrimination, retaliation, and pay inequity seriously, and values each of its employees. The college reviews such claims and takes action appropriate for each situation. At all times, Aims complied with its obligations to support and investigate any claims of discrimination by its employees.”
“In the present instances, there is no evidence of any unlawful conduct in violation of any applicable laws, nor Aims’ policies. Any suggestion otherwise is purely speculative and based on misinformation…
Aims does not typically comment on pending litigation or personnel matters. However, Aims adamantly denies Dr. Wyscaver’s and Dr. Rand’s allegations. These allegations remain pending in an administrative agency that is still investigating the issues and are now pending in civil lawsuits that Aims believes are premature. Aims is cooperating with the agency process and will respond appropriately. Aims believes the allegations should be handled in the agency assigned to review such claims, or the proper court, as opposed to in the media. Dr. Rand voluntarily resigned her employment with Aims, without any advance notice. It is Aims’ understanding that Dr. Rand moved outside of Colorado and accepted new employment the day after she resigned her employment with Aims. Dr. Wyscaver is currently employed by Aims, currently on paid administrative leave. This paid administrative leave took place prior to any allegations being made and/or suits being filed…
Further, Aims recently conducted an independent audit to ensure all employees are compensated in a manner that not only reflects their contributions, tenure, and experience, but also complies with all applicable laws. The audit did not reveal any pay inequity in any area including at the VP level…”