The University of Wisconsin terminated Richard Yaeger — the employee who drove his motorcycle through a group of student protesters in early November — Thursday.
Yaeger posted a video on his Facebook early Thursday morning claiming the two UW representatives, who he referred to as “hatchet men,” fired him.
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In a statement to The Badger Herald, UW spokesperson Meredith McGlone confirmed that Yaeger was fired from his senior power plant operator position at UW.
“This individual is no longer employed by the university; his employment was terminated on Dec. 10 due to workplace policy violations,” McGlone said in the statement.
Both the UW BIPOC Coalition and the Associated Students of Madison student government called on the university to fire Yaeger immediately following the incident Nov 6., in which he injured three students. The university did not fire Yaeger immediately, stating it was an ongoing investigation.
According to Yaeger’s video, the Human Resources employee who terminated him listed reasons from the “work rules book.” Yaeger claimed he was not fired because of his actions Nov. 6.
Yaeger said he believes one reason he was terminated was because a few days following the incident, he did not show up for a shift or call his supervisors to let them know he would be absent.
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Yaeger also cited his use of “foul language” in front of his supervisors following his return to work after the Nov. 6 incident.
In an email he sent as an apology for his foul language, Yaeger said he included the N-word three times. He claimed none were “derogatory, absolutely not — as a matter of fact, used with as much love as possible.”
“In the anticipation that they were going to call me a racist, I decided to exercise my freedom of speech,” Yaeger said.
UW did not elaborate on the reasons why Yaeger was terminated in their statement to The Badger Herald. The Badger Herald submitted a records request Dec. 10 to determine under what conditions Yaeger was terminated.
Yaeger said in the video he believes he was wrongly terminated and will pursue legal action.
“I am starting a search today for a lawyer or a team of lawyers who can help out a regular guy, veteran — a disabled veteran I might add — who has been wrongfully terminated from [his] government job,” Yaeger said.
Following Yaeger’s termination, UW BIPOC Coalition co-founder and 2021 District 8 alder candidate Juliana Bennett said in a Facebook post she is “beyond thankful” UW fired Yaeger.
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But Bennett also criticized the university, noting that the university’s decision to fire him was not because he ran over protesters and UW students.
“The university’s main official reasons for firing Yaeger was his conduct on the job, not his blatant racism, homophobia, unsolicited sexual remarks and disregard for the well-being of others,” Bennett said. “The university’s actions are a perpetuation of their unwillingness to grapple with discrimination within their employment practices.”
The Badger Herald will continue to follow this story as it develops.