Jul 09, 2020
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Harassment lawsuit filed

Annie Tremp claims age and gender discrimination by ASI

Former ASI Executive Director Annie Tremp filed a lawsuit Friday claiming she was wrongfully terminated and discriminated against by some ASI executives.

The lawsuit lists the defendants as ASI and California State University, Fresno, Association, Inc. She is seeking undisclosed compensation for financial and emotional harm.

The lawsuit comes after two ASI executives admitted violating the “substance free pledge” during the ASI retreat in July, where underage drinking took place. Tremp claims she was dismissed after reporting the abuse.

Also, the related financial documents may have been misplaced, the ASI spokesperson told The Collegian on Sunday.

Tremp, who is not a student, was hired in May 2007 to work for ASI after being a long-term employee of Fresno State. Paul Oliaro, Ph.D., vice president of student affairs, told The Collegian that Tremp previously worked for International Student Services and Programs (ISSP) at Fresno State, where she was the office manager.

According to the lawsuit, Tremp believed ASI employed her, but her benefits and pay were administered through the Association.

While working for ASI as executive director, Tremp said in the lawsuit that her duties included reviewing financial information, working with ASI executives to budget for special projects, budgeting for ASI publicity, processing the payment of bills, supervising and training assistants that work for ASI and monitoring expenses, including the use of ASI executives’ credit cards.

Tremp claims ASI President Mackee M. Mason threatened her job if he did not get elected in May.

The lawsuit states: “Mason informed Plaintiff (Tremp) that her job would be in jeopardy if he did not get elected.”

After Mason was elected, Tremp claims that Mason continued to intimidate her with similar remarks and again threatened her job.

According to the lawsuit, Mason threatened to have Tremp fired after she told Mason he was not allowed to purchase a cell phone with ASI funds.

ASI was issued five credit cards for the executives, including Mason, Executive Vice President Sandra Flores, Vice President of Finance Lauren Johnson, Director of University Affairs Tara Powers-Mead and Tremp, according to Johnson.

Johnson, who is also the spokesperson for ASI, told The Collegian on Sunday that under normal conditions, it would be her duty to sign off on all expenses with the executive director. Since she was out of the country for the summer months, that duty was passed along to Tremp.

“Normally, what would have happened is I would have signed off on the ledger to pay that [monthly credit card bill],” Johnson said.

Johnson said the receipts of expenses under question are not available and believes they may have been misplaced. Although the credit card bill was paid to Diners Club International, supporting documentation has been requested from the companies to which the expenses were made.

Johnson said it should be known in a few weeks what was included in these expenses.

Tremp’s lawsuit also includes the following allegations:

• Tremp claims she was discriminated against for her age and gender. She was the only female over the age of 40 working for ASI.

• Mason’s harassment of Tremp was so severe, she claims, that the work environment could have been considered “hostile or abusive.”

• Tremp said she reported the conditions to the Association, which in turn did nothing. By not taking action, the lawsuit states that the Association participated in the harassment by assisting and encouraging it.

• Tremp claims she was put on probation after she issued complaints against Mason for misusing ASI funds and providing alcohol to minors at an ASI retreat in July.

• After Tremp made these complaints, the office was shut down and the Association started an investigation of her.

• After she reported the violations by Mason, he altered Tremp’s job description, she claims. This included reducing her status and responsibilities and replacing her with a younger person to take over some of her responsibilities.

Neither Mason nor Powers-Mead could be reached for comment Sunday.

During the investigation conducted by the Association, Tremp claims in her lawsuit that the investigator told her she was too old to be working with students and should look for other employment.

Tremp was accused of making unauthorized expenditures and falsifying her time sheets, which she said is false. It is still not known what these expenditures consisted of.

Tremp was fired Aug. 29 after refusing a severance package of four months pay if she would waive all claims.

According to the lawsuit, Tremp had not received any prior reprimands that showed her job performance was suffering.

Additional reporting by Ben Keller.

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