Pages 55-59 of Social Security Document Submission
[The cover page of this document is missing. I do not know whether I faxed this document to my sister or sent it to her via USPS. I sent this document to my sister in mid-September 1992. I filed a revised version of this document with the D.C. Department of Human Rights in connection with my unlawful job termination complaint. See Freedman v. D.C. Dept. Human Rights, D.C.C.A. no. 96-CV-961 (Sept. 1, 1998): Record on Appeal at 527-532. I assume that it was this document that prompted my sister to request, during a telephone conversation I had with her on the evening of Friday September 25, 1992, a list of the harassing incidents I reported to Malcolm Lassman and Dennis Race on the morning of October 24, 1991.
The following document might have raised questions in Earl Segal's mind about what exactly I told Messrs. Race and Lassman on the morning of October 24, 1991; but that is rank speculation.]
In November 1991 I spoke with an investigator at the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission), Franklin Jones 1/, about filing a complaint against my former employer, the law firm of Akin Gump Hauer & Feld. One of the things the investigator said was that he found it difficult to believe that these were attorneys who terminated me in this manner. He said he could understand it if I were working for an ordinary business with non-attorney managers, since they would not understand the legal ramifications of what they were doing. But he said attorney managers should have known that they were creating legal liability for the firm in terminating me in the manner they did. He recommended that I file a lawsuit against the firm.
Thus, the termination was unlawful. Since the managers who terminated me were also attorneys--individuals who either knew or should have known that the termination was unlawful--the termination was also irrational. The attorney managers, in a march of folly, proceeded to terminate despite their knowledge that the termination might result in damage to the firm.
Having established that the termination was irrational, the remaining issue is to define further the irrationality. Precisely what irrational processes came into play in my determination? Clarification of the irrational processes that came into play in my termination sheds light on the nature of the attorney managers' relations with me generally and, by implication, sheds light on others' reaction to me generally.
A. On Thursday October 24, 1991 I spoke with Dennis Race and Malcolm Lassman regarding certain instances of harassment that I had experienced while employed at the firm. Two working days later, apparently on the afternoon of Monday October 28, 1991 2/, following an investigation of my complaint, the attorney managers reached a decision to terminate me. During the period after my initial complaint on October 24, 1991 and before the decision to terminate there were no follow-up discussions between me and any attorney managers. In view of the totality of the circumstances surrounding my termination, the decision to terminate was a draconian and irrational solution, while the circumstances surrounding the termination itself were peculiar, to say the least.
On Tuesday October 29, 1991 Dennis Race advised me of the decision to terminate. He said that one of the problems with me was that my work was of poor quality 3/, but that no one ever complained to me because I was oversensitive and overreacted to complaints. (This despite the fact that my most recent job evaluation, in May 1991, described me as being "as close to the perfect employee as it is possible to find." Having conducted a thorough investigation prior to the decision to terminate, the attorney managers must be deemed to have known of the content of my job evaluations.)
Significantly, Dennis Race's statement was also an exquisite encapsulation of my termination. In view of the totality of the circumstances surrounding my termination, the attorney managers' decision to terminate shortly after my complaint of harassment was itself an overreaction, an example of hypersensitivity by the attorney managers.
Thus, one aspect of the attorney managers' irrational reaction to me was the use of projection. The attorney managers attributed to me the characteristic of inappropriate overreaction--a characteristic that more properly described the termination itself.
B. On October 29, 1991, after Dennis Race advised me of my termination, Mr. Race had me sift through two boxes of my personal effects in the presence of my supervisor in Mr. Race's office. The two boxes containing my personal effects had been housed in the terrace level of the building, and had presumably been brought up to the fourth floor and placed outside Mr. Race's office before he called me to his office to advise me of the decision to terminate. The presumed purpose of having me sift through the contents of the boxes was to elicit and gauge a reaction (compare paragraph C below regarding Mr. Race's irrational concern with the issue of embarrassment). At three points Mr. Race, seated at his desk and apparently reading something, registered a nonverbal vocalization as I reviewed my personal effects: (1) at the point I identified to my supervisor and handed over to her my Lexis and Westlaw ID's; (2) at the point I asked my supervisor whether I could keep my job evaluations; and (3) at the point I discarded my Walkman radio and said to my supervisor regarding the radio, "it doesn't work."
Mr. Race's action of gauging my response strongly indicated that the review of my personal effects had been planned in advance with the intent to determine what response the interaction would elicit (which perhaps explains the odd timing of the notice of termination. See 2/). Any evidence so gathered was gratuitous because regardless of how I reacted, my reaction would in no way alter the decision to terminated. The evidence so gathered might be termed "inoperative" evidence. (However, I apparently made a good impression on the attorney managers by my cool response. Later in the morning, when I returned to the terrace level to return my key, my supervisor was on the telephone in her office. When she saw me, she momentarily grimaced with a look of disgust--hardly a look of sympathy or triumph. But she quickly changed her expression and shortly thereafter, while talking to me briefly, was unusually friendly and polite. The momentary look of disgust suggested that I had not behaved in Dennis Race's office the way she had anticipated or would have liked. Also, two days later when I met with Laurel Digweed, her initial response was to ogle my pay stub--a look of anger that I interpreted as a good sign with respect to my relations with the attorney managers. Her first words were to the effect that these were "difficult circumstances," an apparent mocking reference to a note I had left on Malcolm Lassman's desk shortly after I was advised of my termination, "It's a shame we had to meet under such difficult circumstances.")
The attempt to elicit gratuitous evidence might be characterized as paranoid.
C. On October 30, 1991, during a telephone call with Dennis Race regarding unemployment compensation, he stated that I should refrain from making any statements on the unemployment application that might embarrass the firm. None of my previous actions in relation to the firm would indicate a propensity to embarrass the firm. Also, an attempt to embarrass the firm by means of statements on the unemployment application would only result in my ineligibility for benefits. The personnel administrator, Laurel Digweed, later expressly dismissed Dennis Race's comment as inapposite.
In conclusion, the termination of my employment with Akin Gump was, in view of an EEOC representative, unlawful. The status of the managers, as attorneys, rendered the unlawful termination irrational. Key aspects of the attorney managers' irrational response were:
1. Overreaction and the projection of that characteristic onto me.
2. The attempt to elicit gratuitous evidence, which might be termed paranoid.
3. The unfounded, thus irrational, fear of being embarrassed.
An open question is how this profile of behaviors related to the attorney managers' reaction to me generally and how the profile relates to others' reaction to me.
Of additional interest is the fact that Dennis Race is the firm’s hiring partner. Mr. Race's irrational reaction to me may carry important implications regarding my career prospects.
1/ Mr. Franklin Jones, Investigator, U.S. EEOC, 1400 L Street, NW, Suite 200, Washington, DC 20005 (202) 275-7037.
2/ In addition to statements made by Mr. Earl L. Segal, overheard on the afternoon of Monday October 28, 1991, which in retrospect pinpointed the timing of the decision to terminate, the severance check was dated [Monday] October 28, 1991. Despite the decision to terminate on Monday, the attorney managers waited until midday on Tuesday October 29, 1991 to advise me of the termination--and then, oddly, made it clear that I was to leave the premises without delay (see 3/).
3/ At the time of my termination I was working on a project for the client, Hoechst-Celanese, a project I had begun in early August 1991. A short time after I had begun the project, the attorney Cynthia Hogue telephoned me to state that she had reviewed the work I had completed to date and found it to be of high quality. The document I had been working on was a transcript of testimony regarding the biological effects of formaldehyde. This was the first time in my approximately three and one-half years employment with the firm that an attorney had gone out of her way to communicate personally her satisfaction with my work--work that was later termed of substandard quality at my termination. In the early afternoon of Tuesday October 29, 1991, after being advised of my termination--indeed, after Dennis Race had personally overseen the sorting of my personal effects and told me not to bother even submitting to the firm my billable hours (about 2.75 hours) for that morning--my supervisor requested that I complete the task I had been working on that morning. I refused my supervisor’s request, with the polite reminder that “I don’t work here anymore.” For a supervisor to request that a terminated employee remain to complete his work is peculiar, especially where the actions of a senior manager carried the implied yet unequivocal direction that the employee leave the premise without delay (which was itself peculiar in view of the fact that I had not been terminated for gross misconduct). But for a supervisor to request that a terminated employee remain to complete his work where the termination was in part based on the allegation that the employee’s work was seriously flawed is more than peculiar--it is incomprehensible. My supervisor’s request that I remain to complete my work after my termination raises a serious question as to whether the supervisor in fact had a good faith belief that my work was seriously flawed as alleged.
[It was months later, in early July 1993, that a litigation support coworker, Pat McNeil, told me during a telephone conversation that after I left the firm (on the afternoon of October 29, 1991) Chris Robertson (the litigation support supervisor) had called a meeting of employees and advised that she was having the lock to the office suite changed because she (Robertson) was afraid I might return to the office to kill her. Robertson's actions and statements after I left the firm were clearly self-serving fabrications in view of the fact that earlier she had requested that I stay at the office to complete my work -- after the termination notice.]
My supervisor’s apparent equivocation on the issue of my job performance was mirrored in a notable equivocation by Dennis Race himself. In advising me of the decision to terminate, Dennis Race told me that employees had alleged that when they directed me to correct my work I simply ignored them, thus calling into question my work attitude and diligence. Yet, later, shortly before we parted company, Dennis Race told me that whenever he passed by the desk where I was working he saw me hard at work, thereby complimenting my work attitude and diligence. Why would he bother to compliment my diligence if he had a good faith belief that the work product resulting from that apparent diligence deviated sufficiently from the standards set by fellow employees so as to justify my termination? (Compare David Callet’s comment to me in mid-June 1988 that he noticed that I seemed to work very hard. Unlike Dennis Race’s statement, David Callet’s observation was made in the absence of allegations to the contrary. Why, under the circumstances of my termination, and only minutes after citing purported evidence that my work was poor, did Dennis Race state that he noticed that I worked hard? Might Dennis Race’s statement have been a calculated allusion to David Callet’s earlier comment to me, and have been a cynical attempt to prompt me to speak with David Callet as I had spoken with David Kikel following my termination notice at Hogan & Hartson? Might Dennis Race have been trying to look for “signatures,” or “M.O.‘s,” in my behavior as I had alleged of other employees, in an attempt to show that my allegations of other employees' “M.O.’s” were simply projections? Perhaps significantly, Dennis Race made his comment directly after he, a senior member of management, carried one of the boxes containing my personal effects to the office where I had been working: in effect, making a point of “walking hard.” An attempt to prompt me to speak with David Callet is certainly consistent with Mr. Race’s apparent attempt at my termination to elicit evidence. It is speculation that borders on the paranoid, yet Dennis Race’s unusual behavior and equivocal statements at the time of my termination invite speculation.)
[In Akin Gump's Response to Interrogatories, filed with the D.C. Department of Human Rights on May 22, 1992, Dennis Race said that the quality of my work was not an issue in the firm's decision to terminate. My defensiveness in this document about the quality of my work indicates that, in fact, Dennis Race told me in October 1991 that I was being terminated, in part, because my work was subpar.]