DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE AGREES TO $275,000 SETTLEMENT WITH WORKER
Federal EEO Advisor, February 2002.
The Department of Defense will pay a former manager nearly $275,000 to settle a race discrimination and reprisal case.
Despite the settlement, said Joshua Bowers, the former employee's attorney, his client has suffered extensive physical and psychological damage from the ordeal. As a result, the manger is unable to work, required counseling to save his marriage and is estranged from his daughter. Bowers declined to provide his client's name for fear of additional emotional trauma.
A DOD spokesman said the department does not comment on EEO cases. Bowers said the problems began in 1990 when his client, who is black, filed a lawsuit against the department for failure to promote. After six years of litigation, the employee received a court judgment that resulted in a promotion to mid-level management.
However, the manager faced immediate resistance from fellow supervisors and subordinate employees. Within the first week, Bowers said, his client's supervisor swore at him and other upper-level managers refused to discipline an insubordinate employee who threatened to kill him. "He wasn't paranoid; they were really out to get him," Bowers told FEA.
As the problems persisted, the manager "entered a deep depression," Bowers said. The attorney claimed his client suffered severed headaches, a painful skin condition, was unable to sleep, had a dramatic weight loss, lost hair, suffered severe stress related jaw pain from grinding his teeth at night and lost his sense of taste.
In addition, Bowers said, the manager withdrew from friends and family, and suffered marital difficulties. The situation also caused problems between the manager and his daughter, who though she might be responsible for her father's depression.
As a result of mounting problems, the manager initiated a second complaint against the department in April 1997 and subsequently quit.
The case was before an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission administrative Judge when the DOD agreed to settle, Bowers said.
The settlement included $156,765 for emotional distress and damages, $23,800 for mental health counseling, and attorney's fees. The settlement also included $10,000 for educational expenses and $15,00 for a vocational evaluation, contingent upon the manager's successful completion of the technical program within 17 months, which he did. Also, the manager received an additional $82,718 for his participation in a DOD rehabilitation program.
Despite the training and counseling, the manager remains unable to work due to the emotional damage, Bowers said.
The agency admitted no liability for the manager's problems and none of the managers or employees involved was disciplined. Nonetheless, that the department agreed to a $275,000 settlement was notable, despite its lack of contrition, he said.
"You rarely see a six-figure settlement," Bowers said. "Clearly in this case, this man was so emotionally damaged he could not return to work."