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Sunday, January 23, 2022

UW employee who drove through protesters on motorcycle terminated

UW-Madison employee Rich Yaeger, who drove on a motorcycle through a group of protesters during the Nov. 6 Capitol Square protest, was terminated from his position at the University yesterday. 

Yaeger, a senior power plant operator, was captured on camera Nov. 6 demanding to pass through a car blockade at the protest before yelling at protesters. He eventually drove a motorcycle through a group of individuals that included UW-Madison students. 

One month ago, on Nov. 10, UW-Madison tweeted that they were investigating the incident before deciding on “appropriate action based on university policy and standards of employee conduct.” The Associated Students of Madison also called for his firing, and Yaeger’s employment was terminated on Dec. 10.

“This individual is no longer employed by the university; his employment was terminated on Dec. 10 due to workplace policy violations,” UW Madison Director of News and Media Relations Meredith McGlone told The Daily Cardinal.

In a video posted to Yaeger’s Facebook account on Thursday, he lists three reasons that university HR gave for his termination, with the first reason being that he did not show up or call in to his work facility to let them know that he would not be showing up on a day following the incident. 

Yaeger discussed another reason HR credited his termination to includes his use of foul language in the workplace in response to being sent home from a shift early. A video posted to Yaeger’s YouTube channel on Nov. 10, the same day the university announced its investigation, shows him being told that police would be called if he did not leave an office space apparently inside a university power plant. In the clip, Yaeger shouts obscenities to the room before exiting. 

“It wasn’t directed at my coworkers, it was directed at you people, the audience, the supremacists up there who look down at me as a bug to be squashed,” Yaeger said. “I’m not a bug and I will not be squashed by you or anyone else…yet.”

The third reason that Yaeger said HR gave for his firing was his use of racial slurs in an email to his supervisors. 

In the video posted Thursday, Yaeger also announced that he is seeking to legally pursue the matter.

“Just so you know, I’ve been wrongfully terminated, and I am starting a search today for a lawyer or a team of lawyers who can help out a regular guy — a disabled veteran I might add — who’s been wrongfully terminated from the government job from the University of Wisconsin heating plant,” Yaeger said.

In the video, Yaeger only vaguely mentions the motorcycle incident, just mentioning an arm injury and showing his motorcycle at the end of the video.

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