Fedweek Legal

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has denied the request for reconsideration of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (CRC) and upheld its prior determination that the CRC had discriminated against Emma Monroig, a former Solicitor. The agency’s explanations for such actions were considered pretexts for reprisal by the administrative judge (AJ).

The EEOC ordered the CRC to reinstate Ms. Monroig into her previous position of Solicitor, or a substantially equivalent position, despite the agency’s reasoning that the position no longer exists. In addition to reinstatement to her former position retroactive to May 1996, the EEOC awarded Ms. Monroig $64,555 in compensatory damages, $102,136 in attorney fees and costs, restoration of sick leave, and other relief, including additional attorney fees and costs.


The complainant began her career with the agency in June 1990, when she was hired as a GS-15 Solicitor. Upon returning to the Solicitor position in September 1994 after serving as Acting General Counsel for three months, management officials began subjecting Ms. Monroig to discrimination and reprisal after she initiated an informal EEO complaint by lowering her performance evaluation, detailing her to a position with largely non-legal and administrative duties, parceling out her Solicitor duties to other Attorney Advisors in the Office of General Counsel, and proposing regulations to change the organizational structure to exclude Ms. Monroig’s position and functions as Solicitor, according to Edward H. Passman of the Washington, D.C. law firm of Passman & Kaplan, P.C., which represented Ms. Monroig throughout the proceedings.

The EEOC struck down the agency’s assertion that reinstatement to the Solicitor position would have a “substantial impact on its [agency’s] policies, practices and operations.” The EEOC further disagreed with the agency, stating that “[f]or complainant to remain in her Attorney Advisor position . . . the agency would be failing to rectify the discrimination.” The EEOC found no substance to the agency’s argument that Ms. Monroig’s position of Attorney Advisory was substantially similar to the position of Solicitor. Moreover, the EEOC noted that if the agency could not reinstate Ms. Monroig into the position of Solicitor, then it must place her “into a position with duties commensurate with her experience and prior job functions.”

Previously, at the hearing, the Administrative Judge prohibited two high-ranking management officials from participation at the trial. First, the then Acting General Counsel of the CRC was disqualified as the agency representative because she was charged with discrimination. The EEOC held that to allow her “to attend the hearing and simultaneously act as agency representative would create an inherent conflict of interest and tarnish other witnesses’ testimony.” The EEOC also refused to allow the agency Chair, Mary Frances Berry, to serve as its representative given that she was the ultimate decision maker in the complaint and the agency was represented by competent outside counsel.

The decision is Emma Monroig v. U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, EEOC No. 100-96-7943X (April 9, 2003).

** 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. **