FEDweek

Comments Found to Be Discriminatory

The EEOC Office of Federal Operations recently held that a supervisor’s comment about the complainant’s maternity leave was discriminatory and a manager’s sarcastic comment about her EEO activity while looking at her was reprisal.Complainant v. Department of Transportation, EEOC Appeal No. 0120122370 (10/24/14).The decision is interesting because the agency would have prevailed on the merits of the air traffic control specialist’s claims that she was subject to discrimination and reprisal except for the comments. The administrative judge found against her claims that she was subject to discrimination when denied a superior contribution pay increase for two years, when she was listed as a contributor to an agency error, when she not selected for a position at another location, and was subjected to a hostile work environment. However, he found that she was subject to discrimination when a supervisor said with regard to a denied pay increase award that it would be difficult giving her anything when she was gone half the year on maternity leave, but he would see what he could do next year unless she was planning to take maternity leave again.The AJ further found that a manager subjected the complainant to retaliation when he said to her in front of her coworkers that he could not use the term “manning the position,” but would have to say “staffing the position” to avoid another EEO complaint. The EEOC upheld the AJ’s award of limited relief, including $1,000 in compensatory damages for the emotional disturbance complainant suffered as a result of the manager’s mocking comment about her EEO activity; she had requested $100,000.The AJ also rejected her claim for $170,000 in pecuniary damages for costs associated with transferring between cities.The commission agreed with the AJ’s award of damages and stated that one retaliatory comment would not cause a reasonable person to move across the country to another facility.

*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.

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