Thursday, December 23, 2010

Telltale Evidence: A Remarkable Discrepancy

Creative people are said to be unusually sensitive to implicit messages contained in the communications of others. Their sensitivity results from their adaptation to a disturbed developmental environment in which there were often remarkable discrepancies between what family members said they felt and what they actually felt. Rothenberg, A. Creativity and Madness at 12 (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1990).

On about December 23, 1992 I received in the mail a copy of my former employer's response to an unlawful job termination complaint filed by the D.C. Department of Human Rights on February 4, 1992.  I had been terminated from my job as a paralegal at the law firm of Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld at about mid-day on October 29, 1991.  Dennis Race, the lawyer who fired me and who also wrote the employer's pleadings wrote in those pleadings that one of the reasons the firm had terminated my employment was that it had been advised by a consulting psychiatrist that persons with my "disorder" tend to become violent.  The firm feared, so it reported to the D.C. government, that I might pose a negligence risk.  I immediately knew that was a fabrication.  In fact, there was a remarkable discrepancy between, on the one hand,  Dennis Race's report to the D.C. Department of Human Rights in pleadings dated May 22, 1992 that alleged he feared I could become violent and, on the other, his actual behavior on the day he fired me.

At about 11:30 on the morning of Tuesday October 29, 1991, Dennis Race summoned me to his office.  I had been working temporarily on the fourth floor, the same floor where Mr. Race's office was located.  He came to my office and politely asked me to join him.  He advised me that the firm had decided to terminate my employment.  After he advised me of the termination (as I have previously reported)  "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."

After the meeting Mr. Race picked up one box, I picked up another, and we both walked back to my office around the corner on the fourth floor.  Mr. Race said to me: "You know I often pass by you during the day while walking down the hall (presumably to Malcolm Lassman's office) and I always see you busy at work."  I thought it was a tad odd that an employer would compliment my work habits after just having fired me.

But here's the crucial point.  I said to Mr. Race: "Let me tell you what I am going to do.  I am going to go home now.  I'm going to come back with a suitcase, fill the suitcase with all my junk, and take it home."  Mr. Race said that was fine.

You see the problem?  An employer has a good faith belief that an employee could become violent and he allows that employee to go home immediately after being fired so that the employee can return to the firm with a suitcase?  A suitcase?  Did Dennis Race not know what some potentially violent people with a grudge put in suitcases?

It was as if Dennis Race were simply acting.  He was playing the part of an employer who was terminating an employee for cause.  But his acting was subpar.  He had forgotten his lines.  "Gary, just leave now.  We'll pack up your personal items, and ship them to you.  We'll cover the cost of shipping.  Just leave now and don't bother to come back with a suitcase."  Those were the lines Dennis Race forgot for the show.

As for my supervisor telling her employees she feared I might come back to kill her -- well, that was obviously an independent frolic.  Senior management did not believe I was either potentially violent or homicidal.

1 comment:

Gary Freedman said...

Mr. Race said to me: "You know I often pass by you during the day while walking down the hall (presumably to Malcolm Lassman's office) and I always see you busy at work."

In mid-June 1988 I worked in an office on the firm's second floor adjacent to that of firm partner David Callet (a Penn State graduate).

I introduced myself to David Callet, whereupon he said to me: "I notice that you seem to work very hard."

Partners noticed me.