Feds sue Wisconsin military department over discrimination

Federal attorneys have filed a lawsuit alleging that the Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs refused to pay a woman applying for a supervisor position as much as male candidates, according to a report from the Associated Press.

The lawsuit alleges that Michelle Hartness applied for a supervisory position within Wisconsin Emergency Management, a WDMA division, in 2016 after earning stellar reviews as a state emergency management director over the previous five years.

The salary range for the supervisor position was listed as $79,040 to $91,250 in the job posting. The WDMA’s leader at the time, Adjutant General Donald Dunbar, offered Hartness the job at a $78,000 annual salary, according to the lawsuit. Not only was the salary offer below the range advertised, but it was also about 11% less than the outgoing male supervisor made, the lawsuit said.

Dunbar later offered the job to three different men, promising to pay the first two $87,000. Both turned down the offers. The third man accepted the position for $85,000 with a $1,000 raise after the first year.

The lawsuit alleges that the WDMA discriminated against Hartness based on her sex, arguing she was more qualified than the man who ultimately got the job. The lawsuit seeks an unspecified amount of back pay for Hartness as well as damages to compensate her for pain and suffering.