Employee sues U after termination

By By Ana Breton

By Ana Breton

A former accountant in the U physics department filed a lawsuit against the U claiming she was terminated because of her sexual orientation and appearance, and because she cared for animals instead of children at her home.

Heidi Borjesson said her supervisor helped an employee, who had worked at the U for a shorter amount of time, obtain a promotion after it was announced that the physics department would reduce the size of its staff, according to the civil lawsuit filed in 3rd District Court. Borjesson worked at the U for more than 12 years before she was terminated on Jan. 21, 2005, her attorney, Reed Pruyn Goldstein, said.

Borjesson claims she was fired for “arbitrary and personal reasons” rather than for her work performance because she is a lesbian and mothers “domestic animals in her home instead of human children.” She says these reasons prompted her boss to dislike her and openly speak about her to other employees.

Borjesson is seeking an unknown amount of money that includes, but is not limited to, attorney’s fees and other fees related to the trial, income loss and other damages.

According to court documents, the feud started in October 2004 when Roberta McCormick, who is the manager of accounting in the physics department, became aware that the department’s accounting staff was overstaffed and knew she had to reduce the workforce. At the time, Borjesson and Shanon Lake were both associate accountants.

McCormick held meetings with other accountants to try to “get them onboard” to promote Lake to the position of accounting specialist, a justification that would eliminate Borjesson rather than Lake.

In addition, Borjesson said McCormick altered her and another employee’s performance evaluation and job classification status so when it came time to terminate one of their jobs, it would be Borjesson’s position. Borjesson said the “cause termination of her employment was unwarranted” because she had more seniority than Lake.

Borjesson states that if the department had properly adhered to the U’s Reduction in Force policy, Lake’s position would have been eliminated. According to the U’s policy, an employee who has lost his or her job because of a reduction in force is given a preference for six months for other jobs at the U. According to court papers, Borjesson applied and was accepted to other positions at the U, however, she was not rehired at the U after she was “RIF’ed” by the physics department.

McCormick said Borjesson was “never fired,” but “RIF’ed” and declined to comment further on the case because it is still ongoing. She preferred to refer questions to Remi Barron, a spokesperson for the U, who did not return phone calls by deadline.

Lake now works as an accounting specialist in the S.J. Quinney College of Law. She was unavailable for comment.

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