Fedweek Legal

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently issued an important decision finding that a federal agency retaliated against its former solicitor when it detailed her to a non-legal position with less complex work because of her prior EEO activity (see: Emma Monroig v. Berry, Appeal No. 07A10012 (4/25/02), 2002 EEOPUB Lexis 2641).

The EEOC upheld its administrative judge’s decision in awarding the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights employee, who is represented by Edward H. Passman of Passman & Kaplan, P.C., attorney fees in the amount of $96,263.93, $5,872.66 in costs, and $64,555 in non-pecuniary, past pecuniary and future pecuniary damages. Though the civil rights commission has filed a request for reconsideration with the EEOC as to its order that she be retroactively restored to her former position of solicitor, it did not contest the award of attorney fees, costs and damages, said Passman.

Passman, one of the editors of Legal Corner, said the decision is significant in several aspects. First, the then acting general counsel of the civil rights commission 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, said Passman.

The case is not over. There is still considerable back-and-forth. It’s receiving media attention because it involves an agency that is responsible for looking out for the civil rights of U.S. citizens. Stay tuned for further information as the case progresses.

** 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. **