Fees Denied to Out-of-State Attorney in MSPB Case

In an initial decision in the case Augustine v. DVA, MSPB Doc. No. SF-3443-00-0085-A-1 (MSPB Dec. 19, 2003), the MSPB SFRO Administrative Judge Phil Reed denied an attorney fee motion on behalf of a prevailing appellant because the attorney was not licensed in California although he was admitted to practice in two other states. The AJ ruled that the attorney must be in conformance with state ethical and other practice rules re the location of the case. In this instance, he was deemed not to be licensed in California and therefore could not receive attorney fees. This decision has important implications for all MSPB practitioners who practice in regional offices around the country where they are not admitted to local Bars. Please keep in mind that it's an initial decision and not binding precedent at this point, and no information is available at this time regarding whether the decision will be appealed. MWELA MSPB practitioners should keep a close eye on this development.

Case Remanded for Reconsideration of Punitive Damages Award

The D.C. Court of Appeals has vacated the punitive damage award in Daka v. McCrae in light of the decision in State Farm v. Campbell. Mara Verheyden-Hilliard and Carl Messineo represented the appellee, Tyrone McCrae. The compensatory damages award for $187,500 and the award of attorneys' fees and costs in the amount of $276,493.28 were left intact. However, the case has been remanded for consideration of an appropriate punitive award.

Melehy Prevails in Pregnancy Discrimination Case against Postal Service

Omar Melehy, of Zipin, Melehy & Driscoll, LLC, received an order from the EEOC entering judgment for the Complainant in a pregnancy discrimination case against the Postal Service. The EEOC awarded the Complainant $15,000 in compensatory damages; back pay, which will total about $240,000; the position applied for; and attorney's fees at Laffey Rates. The Administrative Judge was Frances Del Toro.

Quarles Certifies Class in Racial Discrimination Case

U.S. District Judge Quarles in Baltimore granted a motion to certify a class of African American workers at a large industrial laundry (Up-To-Date Laundry). The Judge certified the plaintiffs’ proposed class for liability purposes under Rule 23(b)(2), although he indicated that (b)(3) was also appropriate; required notice and a right to opt out; and conditionally certified the class for remedial purposes under (b)(3). He also denied the company's motion for partial summary judgment on the class representatives' individual claims. Five black former Up-To-Date employees sued the company in 2001, charging widespread racial discrimination. In approving the workers' request that the case be treated as a class action, Judge Quarles cited "direct evidence of a work environment permeated with vile racial slurs and bigotry." He also found that the "statistical and anecdotal evidence provides a sufficient basis . . . to conclude that [Up-To-Date] engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination with respect to wages, hours, and work assignments, and created a workplace landscape permeated with racial hostility." In particular, Judge Quarles found that Up-To-Date's CEO Nancy Stair "has made racist remarks to employees," and her two sons, Brad and David Minetree, "have openly used 'Nigger' and other racial slurs to refer to African American employees." This is a solid certification decision, and we were aided by evidence showing incredibly raw racism. In a twist, the black workers were treated less favorably than their Latino counterparts, there being few white employees at the plant. Judge Quarles' January 23 decision is posted on the website www.hellerhuron.com, and it is anticipated that the Court will also post the decision. Up-To-Date's customers include the Johns Hopkins and Georgetown University hospitals and the University of Maryland Medical Center. It employs several hundred workers at its plant in Baltimore. No trial date has been set. Attorneys from Heller Huron represent the class.

EEOC Settles Religious Discrimination Suit Against Greyhound

EEOC v. Greyhound Lines, Inc., No. 3:02CV441 (E.D.Va. May 28, 2003). The EEOC settled a case alleging religious discrimination in violation of Title VII against Greyhound Lines for $50,000. This suit was brought on behalf of a relief bus driver in Richmond, Virginia. The driver, a Biblical Judaist, had requested not to be scheduled from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday, because that was his faith=s Sabbath day. Despite this request, the employer scheduled him to work during the Sabbath period although at times Greyhound did comply with some of his requests to not work then.

EEOC and Restaurant Enter Settlement Agreement Regarding Sex Discrimination

In December 2003, The Palm Restaurant in Washington, D.C. entered into a settlement agreement with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, consenting to pay $500,000 to settle a discrimination complaint alleging that female applicants have been denied jobs as waiters because of their sex. In addition to the monetary payment, The Palm agreed to seek out women to fill positions, provide EEO training to managers and new hires, advertise for positions in women’s publications and major news publications, and to improve its personnel recordkeeping. The Palm is a steakhouse which employs mostly male waiters and caters to a male clientele. Kristin Downey, “Palm Settles Sex Bias Complaint,” Wash. Post (Dec. 18, 2003), at E1.

Newsletter Volume: 
Newsletter - January 2004