In Theresa Devine v. Defense National Guard Bureau (Airforce National Guard, Army Reserve National Guard), EEOC No. 531-2011-00321X (EEOC - Baltimore Field Office Jan. 11, 2012), my co-counsel Gary Gilbert and I are please to report a default judgment was awarded to our client against the D.C. National Guard. The Judge held that the Agency's EEO Director failed to properly inform employees of their rights to file civilian discrimination complaints. Theresa Devine, a former civilian employee of the D.C. National Guard, won the default judgment following years of sexual harassment and retaliation at the hands of her supervisors and co-workers. Administrative Judge David Norken in the EEOC Baltimore Field Office imposed this severe sanction as a consequence of the Agency's egregious misconduct in the handling of Ms. Devine's sexual harassment complaint, and the ensuing litigation. According to the Judge, the Agency's EEO Director "materially" misled Ms. Devine preventing her from filing a sexual harassment complaint, failed to conduct an investigation of the complaint as required by EEOC regulations, and failed to inform other employees of their rights to file similar complaints. The Judge further ruled that, during litigation, Agency attorneys ignored the Judge's clear orders on discovery matters, disregarding his clear instructions, in what can only be described as an attempt to obstruct the discovery process and shield the Agency from the consequences of its misconduct.

The Judge found that Ms. Devine endured years of discrimination at the hands of Agency officials, including sexual harassment and pregnancy discrimination, that her frequent complaints were ignored, and that she was subjected to illegal retaliation for complaining about her mistreatment. The Judge concluded Ms. Devine's "supervisors and co-workers subjected her to offensive sex-based comments, such as suggesting she needed a 'fuck buddy' and comments from her supervisor, such as not wanting a woman in his shop." (Decision, p.23). The Judge found that Ms. Devine "complained to her chain-of-command on numerous occasions, to no effect… In fact, when she complained, the harassment got worse." (p. 23) In reprisal, "her two supervisors Daily and Bucholz, yelled at her for a half hour and disciplined her when she dared to go up the chain-of command to complain about their harassing conduct." When Ms. Devine became pregnant her supervisor "required her to perform menial clerical tasks [and] ignored her need for medical treatment when she broke out in a rash when she came in contact with some chemicals while pregnant." From that day forward, her supervisors "subjected her to intense scrutiny, more than any males they supervised or any other pregnant females, in order to develop a record to fire her." The Judge concluded, "The Agency did nothing for years to end the harassment even though [Ms. Devine] complained on several occasions." (p. 23).

Attorney Josh Bowers represents Ms. Devine as well as Vikki Rouleau who has a separate sexual harassment complaint against the D.C. National Guard. Ms. Devine, Ms. Rouleau and a third woman who requested to be anonymous all suffered extensive sexual harassment while employed as civilians by the D.C. National Guard at Andrews Air Force Base. Mr. Bowers said, "The three women joined the D.C. National Guard to support the fighter jets stationed at Andrews Air Force Base and to actively defend our country." He said, "The women were proud to serve their country, but after years of sexual harassment and the failure of management to protect them from sexual harassment, all three resigned from their civilian positions and did not reenlist in the National Guard at the end of their terms of duty."

– submitted by Josh Bowers

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Newsletter - January/February 2012
January