FEDweek

Default Judgment for Failure to Timely Investigate

On April 6, 2015, the GSA decided not to appeal a default judgment order imposed against it in EEOC No. 5702-2012-00608X, in which GSA was sanctioned for its failure to timely investigate an EEO complaint. The complainant only received the report of investigation from GSA 506 days after the formal complaint, and 350 days after the last amendment.

The complainant claimed that GSA had discriminated against her on the bases of race, sex and/or reprisal through various actions, including removal from the SES, issuance of a negative performance evaluation, and harassment. She filed a formal EEO complaint in April 2011, amending the complaint in June 2011 and September 2011. Under EEOC case law, agencies that fail to timely complete formal complaint investigations within the deadlines specified in EEOC regulations are subject to sanctions, up to and including the imposition of default judgment against the agency.

After GSA failed to timely investigate her complaint, the complainant in April 2012 filed a request for hearing and motion for default judgment. After first issuing an incomplete draft report of investigation in June 2012, the agency finally issued a completed report in August 2012, 506 days after the formal complaint and 350 days after the last amendment. EEOC supervisory administrative judge Regina Stephens found that GSA’s delay in investigating this complaint—which exceeded the deadlines in EEOC regulations by no less than 170 days—warranted default judgment on all claims.

After holding a damages hearing, on February 13, 2015, Stephens awarded the complainant retroactive reinstatement to the SES, back pay with interest (including retroactive constructive salary increases), $50,000 in compensatory damages, a neutral reference should she decide to look for an alternative job, just under $50,000 in attorneys’ fees and costs, remedial EEO training at GSA, and the posting of a notice at GSA that discrimination had been found.

The complainant was represented by Passman & Kaplan Senior Associate Adria S. Zeldin.

* 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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