The EEOC Office of Federal Operations (OFO) recently reversed the Department of Homeland Security’s rejection of an administrative judge’s award of compensatory damages for the termination of a probationary legal instructor.Complainant v. DHS, No. 0720130039 (8/7/14).

The agency alleged conduct issues in terminating the complainant but the AJ found the allegations were a pretext for sex discrimination, finding she was subjected to disparate treatment than her peers and that the agency had no formal policy pertaining to the alleged conduct.Furthermore, she had been recently rated as “meets or exceeds,” her performance was characterized as “expected of an instructor who had been with the agency for less than a year,” and she had received a within-grade increase.

The AJ awarded her reinstatement with back pay and benefits, $200,000 in nonpecuniary (compensatory) damages, $200,000 in attorney fees, and pecuniary damages.

DHS rejected the AJ’s award of nonpecuniary damages and appealed to OFO.However, the OFO upheld the AJ’s finding of discrimination and the $200,000 award, noting that the complainant had experienced humiliation, emotional distress, a sense of helplessness and hopelessness, a divorce, adverse impact on her young children, sleeplessness, weight loss, and visible damage to her skin and hair caused by stress.She also suffered economic hardship as the chief income earning parent, she had to relocate to find work, and her professional reputation was damaged among her peers and prospective employers.The EEOC cited to Commission precedent in [ ] v. U.S. Postal Service, EEOC Appeal No. 0720120027 (4/2/14) ($210,000 awarded), and Sebek v. Dept. of Justice, EEOC Appeal No. 07A00005 (3/8/01) ($200,000 awarded).

* This information is provided by the attorneys at Passman& Kaplan, P.C., a law firm dedicated to the representation of federal employees worldwide. For more information on Passman & Kaplan, P.C., go to http://www.passmanandkaplan.com.

Passman & Kaplan announces the October 2014 publication of the Third Edition of the Federal Employees Legal Survival Guide. This comprehensive book, first authored by Passman & Kaplan in 1999, and previously updated in 2004, has been called the definitive how-to guide for enforcing the rights of federal employees. The third edition of the Guide includes about 60 pages of additional new material and useful advice. New features include information on furloughs, non-critical sensitive positions, personal liability, federal employee special categories, Internet research, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, updated privacy and medical confidentiality policies and also updated whistleblowers’ protections. Go to http://www.passmanandkaplan.com/Federal-Employees-Survival-Guide.shtml for more information or to get yours now.