NEWS- Rejected suitor: Info-seeking UVA employee reassigned

The UVA employee who tried to get the university to comply with a Freedom of Information Act request found out last week in a mass email that his job had been eliminated.

"A blind man can see this is retaliation," says Will Shaw, the former associate director in facilities management with the UVA Health System who recently filed a grievance alleging racial and gender bias. "I'm going from managing tens of millions of dollars and hundreds of employees to nothing."

Shaw says he found out about his new position March 19 in an email to 800 people from chief facilities officer Don Sundgren. Shaw's reassignment is simply part of the second phase of a major reorganization in facilities management, according to UVA spokeswoman Carol Wood.

"These changes are necessary to meet the changing needs of the university community at large, with a strong focus on the university Health System," Wood says, noting that the System will gain over 500,000 square feet of new space in the next few years.

"All of the changes made through these reorganizations are to improve service to university customers and are in no way retaliatory, a prohibited practice at the University of Virginia," says Wood. None of those reorganized lost salary or job classification, she adds, and Shaw's reassignment "is meant to take advantage of his extensive health system experience and expertise in program management and customer service."

"I've been effectively fired," says Shaw. "All I'm doing is simply gathering data– no budgets, no contracts, no projects, no personnel, no nothing," he says. "It's as much a do-nothing job as they could give me. The idea is to make me so miserable that I'll leave."

Shaw says he has feared for his job since he took UVA to court over its refusal to turn over a Central Virginia market salary survey he'd requested. "A salary survey applicable to a group of employees... to me, that would clearly be a public document," says state Senator Ed Houck, who's chairman of the FOI Advisory Council and whose district covers Louisa County, where Shaw resides.

However, a judge and the Supreme Court of Virginia ruled last year that Shaw filed his Freedom of Information Act suit in the wrong venue, the General Assembly stepped in and passed a law this year closing the loophole to make it UVA proof.

Shaw says he soon began to notice that he wasn't included in meetings or getting business communications he needed to do his job.

"I was excluded from my own department's safety committee meetings, something a person in my department and level would do," he says. And when he attempted to fill two job openings in an organization primarily staffed by white males with what he calls the "best qualified applicants"– a black male and a white female– "My supervisor kept it on hold for 13 months," he says. 

Shaw wonders if intentionally keeping him short-staffed was an attempt to affect his job performance. Earlier this month, he filed a grievance alleging race and gender bias.

"If you're in a management level position in my department and you file a grievance, you're dead, in my opinion," says Shaw.

Wood declines to comment on Shaw's grievance, but says, "The university supports every employee's right to access the grievance procedure."

 Shaw, 56, has worked for UVA for 16 years. "I'm really loyal and I give 100 percent," he says. "I'd rather not be stuck in a job that's meaningless." 

He says he's consistently earned stellar performance reviews with the exception of his last one, which was average. "How do you go from stellar to worthless piece of crap?" he asks.

 Shaw cleared out his office and started his new job March 26. "It makes me wonder why I carried my cell phone and kept my pager on 24/7 all these years," he muses. "I wonder why I woke my family dealing with all these situations."

Shaw says he's fortunate in some ways because the youngest of his four children graduates from UVA in May. He hopes to work at the university another decade before retiring– or at least he did before his job was eliminated.

"UVA has droves of talented, dedicated people," he says. "This is a bad message for all of them."


UVA said Will Shaw was not in danger of losing his job for filing a lawsuit against the university– and then eliminated his position and assigned him to what he describes as a "do-nothing job."
FILE PHOTO BY WILL WALKER

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19 comments

Unbelievable falsifications stated! However, the truth will be known - all things in due time.

Mr. Shaw lies and exagerates to an unbelievable extent!

Funny, I only see reprehensible statements in your comment.

Will's a great person and doesn't deserve this treatment, retaliatory or not.

"Unbelievable falsifications"? How about a couple of examples? Otherwise, you're libeling a good man.

In my dealings with Will I've only ever known him to be a straight dealer and as honest as the day is long. I also know he has a fierce sense of justice.

Will's not the only one out there. UVA has many methods of dealing with people who disagee with them. Most of the time they leave you with no recourse. Our way or the highway is what employee's have at UVA. Nothing at all to do with productivity or morality.

All I can say is I'd love to have a professional job at UVA. Do you know how hard it is to find a good paying job in C'ville? They are hard to come by my friends.

Sincerest thx to those w/supportive or constructive or enlightening comments. As the mega-goliath employer in the region, UVa is positioned to dictate terms to employees & would-be employees, & to influence other employers & the region generally. Thus on UVa falls both opportunity & responsibility. To "unknown," who I've apparently offended, pls contact me separately at willfshaw@juno.com as I'd like to discuss in-person. I hope we can accept & even resolve differences, at least try. To "My Two Cents," pls email me; I'm just a mushroom, & a lessor one today than two weeks ago, but if I can help your job search, I will. -Will

Sigh. From here, it appears that the time and energy UVA is spending on sticking it to Mr. Shaw is far more than that required to just comply with his Freedom of Information Act request.

Mr. Shaw's account sounds true to the facts from what I've witnessed thus far in my employment at UVA. They're a cliquish, good 'ol boy system who are especially averse to outsiders and fresh blood. I'm very sorry that this happened to Mr. Shaw and I fully expect something similar to occur to me in my employment here even though no grievances have been filed by me. I came here to UVA thinking that they were cutting-edge, interested in research etc. only to discover to my utter surprise that they are more backwards than what I had just left. A real shock and disappointment. The pay is good and the benes are better but it's not worth it when you're getting held back.

It is a sad day for the academic community. It is a sad day for the character of UVA that Will Shaw has been treated that way. UVA must regaint the trust of this community by reinstating Will to his job.

Hmmmm. At first reading, yes I feel dismayed for Mr. Shaw. But then, second reading, common sense kicks in and the legalities of what he is claiming surrounding this "demotion" comes in to question. Having worked in the state system nearly 20 years I know it is not an easy task to approach reorganization in an facet on the imagination. Months of planning with human resouces, and various other committees goes into this endeavor. If Mr. Shaw was notified by email as he claims this would be highly unusual, as generally speaking the employee would be notified in a closed door meeting. Reading his interview, its sounds as though he has less responsibily (a lot less) but loses nothing more.
I have to wonder if Mr. Shaw is so angry with UVA because of the Freedom of Information issue that he cannot see past that. I am sure that other people not involved in that issue are also being relocated...hmmm, we don't see them yelling and screaming in the paper.

Mr Shaw is telling the truth. This is one of the ways management deals with things they don't like within UVA. I have worked at UVA for many years. If you have a problem with something you become the problem. It is an exaperating place to work when you are not being dealt with fairly. There are many wrong doings here, he is just one example of many.

The University of Virginia (FM) requests that all office workers (at least pay band 3 and above) sign an annual "conflict of interest" statement. Even to the point that a business owner cannot do work for the University because his wife works in a University office in a Admin. support position. THEN The University hires the SON of a major land developer to handle University Real Estate and leasing activities? ..Check it out / his father is on HSF BOD. There are bigger issues at FM than Mr. Shaw. He is just an easy target.

Where are the other folks that were reassigned? Are they not upset? Do they have some kind of lawsuits or grievances going on against UVA? Do they not feel effectively fired? Have their evaluations failed or fell to "worthless piece of crap" status? Were the other reassigned folks placed in do-nothing positions also? Was their reassignment an act of retaliation? Are they feeling miserable enough to leave UVA?

JUST WHAT HAPPENED TO THEM? WHAT?

Hey Now ! ! ! Just Who Did arranged this interview with the Hook? Why were the others not interviewed?

Mr. Shaw

My thoughts and prayers are with you. I hope you find the peace of mind that you are searching for, and the comfort you need to rest spiritualy, physically, and mentally.

May God's Richest Blessings Be With You and His Strength Hold You.

Well, it is sad that Will has been placed in a do nothing job but I have to also think about all the employees in FM who lost their jobs (fired). There have been problems in FM for many years. Unfair treatment of the little guys with no one to help. Now that the shoe is on the other foot, why is it so much attention is being given to Will. At least he has a job.

I know both sides of Mr. Shaw: the driven, fierce, "fight for what is right" person, and the "blow up the house to get the mouse" person.
If you only know one side of him, that will probably determine what you believe in this case.
The fact is, there is truth to both sides. Mr. Shaw can be a pain, but upper management at UVA has always projected "fair and balanced" while doing whatever they want, rules and ethics be "darned". Many upper management types flaunt it, and the worker bees remain silent because they want to keep the benefits package that everyone agrees is substantial.

As for "falsifications" that will "come out in due time", and being a "liar"....those comments are undoubtedly from people who have an axe to grind with Mr Shaw. The fact that Mr. Shaw filed a grievance, using the Commonwealth's procedure, supposedly means that the FACTS of that grievance will be kept confidential. Anything else you hear from either side will be "with spin".

My personal experience is this: you can give UVA your heart, soul, and mind for years (and smiling when others get the credit)...and be banished like the plaque within minutes. Like almost any other job, the real rewards come with the personal satisfaction of doing a good job. These days, "less than ethical" big shots flourish at the top of many agencies and businesses. Their "due" will come in time also.
Why do some folks get the "media" parade, while others get a "free pass" ? (think: Rick Turner)
I'm sure there are folks who won't like this post - but like it or not, you will find TONS of dirt under the carpet at the Facilities department if you know where to look. Maybe the Washington Post has a couple of young, eager-to-be-successful reporters it can assign ?

As for the HR person talking about "reorganization"...that's code for "justifying our do nothing jobs"...the HR department has had its own scandals (think Tom Gausvik....google that stooge and see what you see).....

All UVA does be steal from people anyhow...They are feeding happy parasites at that UVA health mental area. They are happy to get enough people and send them to Stauntons Western State Hospital for their rotations and over paid psychiatrist training. And the hospital wants peoples houses after they not able to afford hospital bills...

I was simply stating my experiences a health technician there several years ago and witnessing some stuff...I say god bless you Mr. Shaw for your struggles.