Crayon Law Firm Recent Victories in Employment Litigation
Crayon Law Firm WINS Sexual Harassment Lawsuit
Case: Complainant v. Dept. of Army (Anniston Army Depot) (May 2019)
Type of Case: EEOC (Birmingham District); Sexual Harassment, Hostile Work Environment, Retaliation
Details: Our client was subjected to incidents of sexual harassment that escalated to physical assault. After she reported it, the Agency failed to do a proper investigation and retaliated against our client by shunning her, requiring her to have witnesses in order to have conversations, and otherwise interfered with the EEO process. Our client had a final trial.
Victory: The Judge found in favor of our client. The judge found that damages totaling well over six figures was warranted given the emotional harm suffered by our client, in addition to out of pocket costs. Attorney fees are expected to be awarded in full as well!
The Takeaway: This decision should change the way the Army treats civilian employees who complain about sexual harassment. While no dollar figure can compensate for maltreatment, this victory will ensure our client is well compensated for her pain and suffering.
Crayon Law Firm WINS Wrongful Termination Lawsuit
Case: Appellant v. Dept. of Defense MSPB No. AT-0752-18-0580-I-1 (April 2018)
Type of Case: MSPB (Atlanta, GA); Wrongful Termination
Details: Our client, an HR Specialist, was terminated due to alleged insubordination and causing a work disturbance. She hired us to get his termination reversed. We filed an appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board. The case went to a final hearing.
Victory: The Judge reversed the client's removal/termination in favor of our client! The judge ruled that even if some of the charges were sustained, the Agency's penalty of removal was not reasonable. The judge applied the Douglas Factors and determined reversed the termination.
The Takeaway: This decision is encouraging because it reaffirms that federal employees have a constitutional right to employment, and even if some misconduct is alleged, we can still make an argument for leniency.
Crayon Law Firm Wins Wrongful Termination Case
Case: Appellant v. Dept. of Defense MSPB No. DC-0752-17-0619-I-1 (April 2018)
Type of Case: MSPB (Washington, DC); Wrongful Termination; Due Process
Details: Our client was terminated, and he hired us to get his termination reversed. We filed a mixed-case complaint appealable to the Merit Systems Protection Board. We intensely litigated this matter with discovery, depositions, investigation, and a final hearing in Washington, D.C.
Victory: The Judge reversed the client's removal/termination in favor of our client! The judge ruled that our client did not receive proper due process where he was not notified of the true and complete motives and considerations for his termination. The judge ordered, among other things, that my client to be reinstated to his position with wages and benefits.
The Takeaway: This decision is published on Westlaw or Lexis and confirms that agencies cannot fire federal employees without proper due process. Specifically, an employee must be put on notice of all the motives and considerations for the proposed termination, and be allowed an opportunity to challenge the removal.
Air Force Employee Wins Retaliation Case-13 Years Later!
Case: Complainant v. Dept. of Airforce (Fort McGuire) (March 2018)
(See also EEOC/OFO Appeal No. 0120133317)
Type of Case: EEOC (Philadelphia); Retaliation; Derogatory Records
Details: Our client had one of the most unique cases we've ever encountered. After she left the Air Force in 2005, she discovered in 2013 that the Air Force placed derogatory and false information in her files upon her departure. This prevented our client from maintaining employment with the Army. She brought a lawsuit against the Air Force and it was dismissed, appealed, and then reversed in her favor (See Appeal No. 0120133317 here).
She hired Crayon Law Firm. We immediately investigated the matter, consulted experts regarding security clearances, and litigated with discovery and motions. The Agency again tried to have the matter dismissed on summary judgment, but we swiftly defeated that motion. We went to trial January of 2018.
Victory: The judge found in favor of our client! The judge found that the Agency discriminated and retaliated when they placed derogatory information in our client's federal files.
After prevailing at trial, we held a separate damages hearing that lasted two days! We showed a lot of evidence that my client suffered extreme damages as a result of the Agency's retaliation.
The Takeaway: First, although there are deadlines for filing a case, a case can be filed years later if the discrimination is not known during the deadline period. Second, the EEOC held that derogatory information being placed in a person's file is actionable and similar to giving a negative job reference. Third, the Agency thought it got away with something that eventually came back to haunt it years later! Federal Agencies should not retaliate against employees for pursuing their rights. Now, this Agency will pay for its actions.
Crayon Law Firm WINS Disabled V.A. Nurse's Appeal and Reverses Dismissal
Case: Violet F. v. Dept. of Veterans Affairs, Appeal No. 0120181343 (June 2018)
Type of Case: EEOC (New York); Disability Discrimination vs. Worker's Compensation
Details: Our client worked as a nurse at the VA. When she became disabled, she was promised a position, in writing, that would allow her to work within her medical restrictions. She was then removed from her duties as a nurse.
The Agency never gave our client the modified position, however. Instead, after they removed her from her nursing duties, they had our client "float around" doing practically nothing for over a year, and they kept promising her the modified position "soon."
We filed a formal complaint and, after we concluded the investigation, the New York EEOC took two years to acknowledge her hearing request! When we finally got a judge involved, the Agency immediately filed a motion to dismiss. First, the Agency claimed my client waited too long to file her EEO case (over a year). Second, the Agency argued that this wasn't a discrimination case, but rather a Worker's Compensation issue that does not belong in the EEOC.
We argued that the Agency led our client on for over a year by promising her the position "soon," and so our client relied on the agency, and therefore she could file her complaint past the deadline due to the Agency's actions. We also argued that the Agency could not hide behind Worker's Comp where this was a clear disability discrimination/failure to accommodate claim, not a Worker's Comp issue.
The judge, who took two years to even acknowledge us, quickly dismissed the case! With one page, and no explanation, the judge agreed with the Agency. We appealed.
Victory: The dismissal was quickly reversed in favor of our client! The Commission agreed 100% with us that (1) our client was allowed to file her complaint past the deadline where the Agency misled her that they would be providing her a modified position; and (2) this was a reasonable accommodation disability discrimination issue, not a Worker's Compensation issue. The case was reversed and the Agency (and the judge) who dismissed the case were ordered to reinstate the case and allow the litigation to proceed.
The Takeaway: The victory in this case will be published and is now binding precedent! This means that it can be cited, and reinforces the Commission's position that a person can file past the deadline if the Agency's actions caused the person to do so. Second, this reinforced that this type of issue is a disability discrimination issue, not a Worker's Comp issue where the Agency never gave my client the modified position she was promised in writing.
This case is also very promising when it comes to keeping judges in check! Sorry Judge, but respectfully, It's insulting that the New York EEOC office took TWO YEARS to even acknowledge my client, and it took them one page to dismiss the case. The dismissal was meritless and I knew my client had been done an injustice. It's nice to know that there are checks and balances through the appeal system. Furthermore, the Commission decided this case quickly! That's justice.
Crayon Law Firm WINS DoD Appeal and Reverses Dismissal of Harassment Case
Case: Trevor F. v. Dept. of Defense (Defense Health Agency), Appeal No. 0120180166 (January 2018)
Type of Case: Federal Employee (D.O.D.); EEOC (Washington); Harassment/Retaliation
Details: Our client worked at a a military medical center in Bethesda, Maryland. He filed a formal complaint based on hostile work environment when his co-worker cursed out another co-worker and used the "N" word. After she used the "N" word, she turned to my client and said "you better not tell on me."
Afterward, the racist co-worker and management began to harass our client after he filed his EEO complaint. Suddenly, our client's reasonable accommodation that he had enjoyed for years, due to his disability, was taken away, and he was subjected to suspension and termination proceedings.
The case was dismissed. Our client hired us and we appealed.
Victory: The dismissal was reversed in favor of our client! We successfully argued that, although our client was a "bystander" when he witnessed the "N" word, he was subjected to retaliation when the harasser said "you better not tell on me," and suddenly our client was subjected to harassment by management that occurred right after he filed his EEO complaint. The Commission reversed the dismissal, and now our client is perfectly poised to get his justice!
The Takeaway: The victory in this case is published (available on Westlaw and Lexis) and is now binding precedent! This means that it can be cited, and reinforces the Commission's position regarding retaliation for participation or opposition to discrimination.
Crayon Law Firm WINS Appeal for Navy Employee and Reverses Dismissal of Wrongful Termination Case
Case: Patrick S. v. Dept. of Navy, Appeal No. 0120172576 (November 2017)
Type of Case: Federal Employee (Navy); EEOC (Washington); Wrongful Termination
Details: In his prior discrimination complaint, our client, a Navy Employee, raised the issue of his termination. The Navy failed to process and pursue the termination claim. When he hired us, we noticed this error, and we filed a formal complaint. The complaint was dismissed as being untimely. We appealed.
Victory: The dismissal was reversed in favor of our client! We successfully argued that, although years had passed since our client raised the issue of his termination, the Navy had the responsibility to properly process his termination claim once our client made EEO contact on his claim. Thanks to this victory, our client is now able to move forward with his client's wrongful termination case!
The Takeaway: The victory in this case is published (available here) and is now binding precedent! This means that it can be cited, and reinforces the Commission's position that the Agency bears the burden of showing that an employee's EEO contact was untimely. If the Agency does not properly process a claim, they can be ordered to comply. Be sure to timely raise your claims!
Deaf Postal Employee Wins His Case in Full!
Case: Complainant v. USPS (2015-2017)
Type of Case: EEOC (Atlanta); Disability Discrimination; Failure to Accommodate, Failure to Promote
Details: The Agency failed to accommodate a deaf postal employee by providing proper interpretive equipment during important meetings. Additionally, despite the employee’s qualifications and prior experience, the Agency repeatedly denied him supervisor opportunities. At the final hearing, we put up substantial evidence that the Agency failed to accommodate my client. Some of our evidence included proof that the Agency violated its own policies governing the use of interpretive equipment. Additionally, we put up other deaf employees who attested that they too were not provided the proper accommodations.
Victory: The Agency attempted to have the case dismissed on a Motion for Summary Judgment. We defeated that motion and proceeded to trial. After a final hearing, the Judge issued a finding of discrimination in favor of my client. We came back for a hearing on damages and the employee received compensation for his pain and suffering, plus other costs and monetary damages, and full attorney fees.
The Takeaway: The victory in this case may very well change the way the Postal Service treats deaf employees. This case was an exercise in perseverance. First, the Agency attempted to get the case dismissed. Then, the Agency refused to discuss settlement. By using good law and evidence, we ultimately prevailed.
Disabled Army Employee Wins Appeal and Reverses Dismissal of her Wrongful Termination Case
Type of Case: EEOC-Office of Federal Operations; Appeal; Breach of Settlement; Disability Discrimination; Failure to Accommodate; Retaliation.
Details: Employee with a disability filed a complaint that was dismissed by the Agency because a settlement agreement had previously been reached. I was hired after the dismissal and filed an appeal arguing that the settlement agreement was invalid, that the Agency committed retaliation, and they failed to accommodate my client.
Victory: This case is published and available here. The Commission agreed with us that the agreement was invalid where the Agency merely agreed to do something it was lawfully required to do, i.e. to locate reasonable accommodations for the employee. The Agency filed a Motion for Reconsideration and lost. This case is now published (Appeal No. 0120142132) and can be cited as binding precedent.
The Takeaway: This is an excellent example of where we applied skillful lawyering to prevail on an appeal. In doing so, we helped create binding precedent and case law that can be cited by future litigants.
We applied the law of discrimination to contract principles. Always be wary of any agreement or settlement that states that the Agency will do what it is already required to do by law.
VA Nurse Practitioner Wins Six Figures for Wrongful Termination!
Case: Complainant vs. Dept. of VA (2012-2016)
Type of Case: EEOC (Atlanta); Wrongful Termination; Discrimination (race).
Details: Nurse practitioner was abruptly terminated in 2012 after the VA alleged that her certifications and license lapsed. The VA fought the case hard for several years. We defeated their efforts to get the case dismissed and we had a final hearing.
At the final hearing, we put up substantial evidence that my client never let her license or certifications lapse. There was one technical error in her approval to practice, and this was caused by the Agency. We proved that my client should never had been terminated. Additionally, we showed that the Agency was letting a Caucasian nurse practitioner issue prescriptions without authority, and yet they did not terminate her.
Victory: First, we defeated the Agency’s attempts to get the case dismissed. Then we had a final hearing and won. After that, we had a hearing on damages, and my client was awarded over $115,000 for pain and suffering, PLUS backpay, attorney fees, costs, and numerous other monetary damages to make my client whole.
The Takeaway: This case was a perfect example of justice prevailing. My client’s case lasted four (4) years. We knew the Agency was dead wrong, and we remained patient until our final day of victory. In the end she got her job back, plus all the money that was owed to her, and then some.
This case also demonstrates the importance of proving damages. The judge in this case awarded over six (6) figures for pain and suffering based on the evidence we presented and similar cases I analogized.
The VA Settles Disability Discrimination for Multiple Five Figures After Final Hearing
Case: Complainant vs. Dept. of VA (2015-2016)
Type of Case: EEOC (Atlanta). Discrimination on the basis of age, race, and reprisal for prior EEO activity.
Details: A black Nurse Manager was not receiving her periodic step increases (pay raises), assistance, awards, and credit for her numerous achievements within the VA. We held a final hearing and presented evidence to discredit the upper levels of management, including the director.
Victory: The Agency filed a Motion for Summary Judgment attempting to have the case dismissed. We defeated that motion and proceeded to a final hearing. While we were awaiting the judge’s decision, the Agency agreed to settle the case for over $50,000, plus the pay raises and other items my client desired to make her whole.
The Takeaway: This is another example of being prepared to take a case all the way with the realization that settlement can occur, even after a final hearing.
Whistleblower Wins MSPB Retaliation Case Against Army
Case: Appellant v. Dept. of Army (2012-2015) MSPB Docket Nos. AT-1221-12-0298-W-2; AT-0752-12-0666-I-2
Type of Case: MSPB (Atlanta); Anniston Army Depot (Alabama); Whistleblower Retaliation; Wrongful Demotion
Details: My client, an audit specialist, was demoted shortly after she reported systemic issues and discrepancies in several programs. The Agency abruptly confiscated her computer, demoted her, and lowered her evaluation. The agency claimed that my client was using her work computer for personal business. We brought a case under the Whistleblower Protection Act.
Victory: We held a two-day hearing where top management was cross examined and over 100 exhibits were prepared to be tendered into evidence. We challenged the forensic computer evidence and their witnesses. After the hearing, the judge found in favor of my client. They found that my client made a protected disclosure and shortly thereafter, the Agency manufactured claims and wrongfully demoted my client. My client recovered attorney fees, her job, her lost overtime, backpay, and other compensation.
The Takeaway: This case, which is published and available on Westlaw and Lexis, was a case where justice was served. A Whistleblowing case where the Agency immediately retaliated against my client. Unfortunately for the Agency, my client was an auditor and therefore very detailed-orientated and relentless. While I handled the complicated legal issues, my client provided in depth evidence and insight into the facts. Ultimately we prevailed and the Agency corrected course.
Office of Inspector General Agent Wins MSPB Breach of Settlement Claim Against Post Office
Case: Appellant v. USPS (OIG) (2013-2015)
Type of Case: MSPB (Atlanta); Wrongful Termination; Breach of Settlement Agreement
Details: A Florida OIG Agent was wrongfully terminated. After a complicated settlement, the client was made whole by way of early retirement and backpay and other remedies. One term of the settlement agreement provided that the employee could retain his law enforcement credentials (his badge, ability to carry firearm for life, etc.) so long as the Agency’s doctor approves. The Agency provided a doctor that lacked proper qualifications.
Victory: After we filed a Petition to Enforce Settlement Agreement, the MSPB found that the Agency breached the settlement agreement and acted in bad faith. The issue of attorney fees was litigated for another year, and we prevailed again. The MSPB awarded attorney fees and costs for the time spent on dealing with the Agency’s breach. Perhaps the greatest victory is that this client has now become a friend and we enjoy vacationing together and reminiscing on our legal victories.
The Takeaway: This case was a great experience in holding an Agency accountable for breaching terms of a settlement agreement. It was also a great lesson in how to recover attorney fees, which the MSPB will reimburse using the hourly billing method.
Victory over Post Office in "Reverse Discrimination" Case
Case: Complainant v. U.S.P.S. (2012-2014)
Type of Case: EEOC (Atlanta District); Discrimination (race and sex). This case was a “reverse discrimination” case.
Details: Mail Carrier in South Carolina was suspended and disciplined after he and a black female coworker had an argument. Several of our witnesses attested that the Postmaster had a history of treating black females more favorably than white males.
The Victory: We held a final hearing, and the judge found in our favor. She found that my client, a white male, was disciplined harshly, while the black female co-worker had engaged in similar altercations in the past and she was not disciplined. The Agency failed to adequately explain the different treatment, and in combination with other evidence of discrimination, the judge found in favor of my client.
A damages hearing was subsequently held and my client was awarded over $60,000 in pain and suffering, plus full attorney fees, costs, backpay, and other monetary compensation. Before the judge formalized her decision, the Agency settled the matter and threw in a bonus: the Postmaster and his “minion” were transferred out of that Post Office.
As a bonus to me, I received a thank you card that was signed by all of the mail carriers in that post office!
The Takeaway: This case shows that civil rights apply equally to everyone. Discrimination does not only happen to one race, or the “minority” race. Sex-based discrimination does not only happen to females. It is a pleasure to see Martin Luther King’s work come around full circle to provide protections equally, including to those traditionally thought to be least in need of protection.
My belief in true equality is what separates me from most “civil rights” attorneys. The true spirit of the law protects everyone and all victims of employment discrimination.