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NWACC President Served In Federal Lawsuit Against School

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The Northwest Arkansas Community College president was served with a summons this week to appear in court in a wrongful termination lawsuit brought forth by a former school employee, according to court documents released Friday.

Outgoing NWACC President Becky Paneitz received the summons Wednesday, as did Wendi Cadle, the community college’s human resources director, according to federal court documents in Fayetteville.

Attorneys for Susan Gidney, a former fixed assets accountant for the school, filed a federal lawsuit in March against NWACC, seeking lost wages and punitive damages for Gidney’s firing, according to the lawsuit filed in federal court.

The former school employee stated administrators fired her without just cause last year after she complained about the institution’s hiring practices. The lawsuit alleges that, while working for NWACC, Gidney applied for another position, but was discriminated against because of her age. Gidney later complained about the incident to a coworker, who told the school’s human resources director about the conversation, the lawsuit claims.

Paneitz and Cadle are listed as defendants in the lawsuit. Paneitz is set to retire as NWACC’s president this summer.

Gidney filed an employment complaint against NWACC with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in July, as was fired two days later, according to the lawsuit.

School administrators deny that Gidney was fired because she complained about the school’s hiring practices. They said the defendant was dismissed because of misconduct, as she failed to complete required assigned work in a timely manner, according to the lawsuit.

The school claims NWACC financial administrator Chuck Ramseyer asked Gidney last February to get rid of obsolete equipment, and Gidney explained she could not guarantee it would be done by summer, since some of the process involves other employees. Gidney then did not have the work completed by the July deadline, and was fired later that month, according to the lawsuit.

Gidney seeks an unspecified amount of money in lost wages and benefits, along with punitive amounts for emotional damages, according to the lawsuit.

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