April 8, 1994
3801 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20008
Charles L. Reischel
Govt. of the District of Columbia
Deputy Corporation Counsel
Appellate Division 6th Floor
441 4th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001
RE: Freedman v. D.C. Dept. of Human Rights
D.C. Court of Appeals Docket No. 93-AA-1342
Dear Mr. Reischel:
This letter is intended to direct your attention, with respect to the above referenced matter, to statements contained in Akin Gump’s Response to Interrogatories and Document Request, filed with the D.C. Department of Human Rights on May 22, 1992, which are misleading as a matter of law and which have the necessary effect of concealing a discriminatory practice in employment.
Akin Gump refers in the Response to my “transfer” or “transition,” in March 1990, from the firm’s legal assistant program to the firm’s litigation support department:
“In an attempt to find comparable work for the Claimant, a decision was made to transfer him to the Litigation Support Department.” Response to Particulars, Attachment A, page 1.
“During his transition from a legal assistant position (paralegal) to his work with the litigation support department, Claimant had several discussions with his direct supervisor about problems with interacting with co-workers and occasional outbursts. . . .” Response to Particulars, Attachment A, page 5.
You will observe that a federal court has determined that as a matter of law, a transfer from Akin Gump’s litigation support department to the legal assistant program constitutes a promotion. McNeil v. Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld, No. 93-0477, footnote 2 at 2 (D.C.D.C., filed Nov. 29, 1993) (“McNeil could have applied for promotions outside of the [litigation support] department to legal secretary or legal assistant, however, she stated that she was not interested in either position. During her tenure, two of her coworkers both black, were promoted to legal assistant positions.”) Thus, according to McNeil, a necessary logical conclusion is that my own reverse transfer from legal assistant to litigation support employee in March 1990 was, as a matter of law, a demotion.
Akin Gump’s characterization of my demotion as a "transfer” or “transition” is therefore misleading as a matter of law, and, furthermore, has the necessary effect of concealing a discriminatory practice in employment.
The demotion itself, occurring as it did in March 1990, more than a year before my unlawful termination on October 29, 1991, falls outside the relevant six-moth period defined by the D.C. Human Rights Act of 1977, as amended (“the Act”). However, my continued employment in the litigation support department up until the time of my termination constituted a continuing discriminatory practice in employment. Therefore, my requests for transfer back to the legal assistant program on October 23, 1991 and October 24, 1991--days before my termination--constituted a demand on the employer that it rectify a continuing discriminatory practice. The employer’s refusal to carry out the requested transfer and its decision, instead, to terminate my employment at the time it had express knowledge of my sexual orientation therefore amounted to a per se discriminatory practice in employment by reason of sexual orientation. Cf. McNeil.
Further, Akin Gump’s willful misrepresentation in the Response regarding the true nature of my “transfer” or “transition” from the legal assistant program to the litigation support department falls short of the candor mandated by the Act, D.C. Code Sec. 1-2529 (Filing False Documents or Testimony) and D.C. Code Sec. 1-2528(a) (Obstruction of an Investigation).
Note that the two black litigation support employees who were promoted to the legal assistant program, see McNeil at n. 2, were Sherry Ann Patrick and Lutheria Harrison.
Coincidentally, both Patrick and Harrison engaged in harassment of me in what I believe to have been a possible quid pro quo arrangement with the harassment ringleader: "If you do this for me (namely, harass Freedman), I'll see to it that you get the promotion you want."
Lutheria Harrison: DHR Finding of Fact 4(h)
(h) On or about early August 1991 an employee, Lutheria Harrison, who at that time was assigned to a work cubicle adjacent to the Complainant, was talking to another employee, Beatrice Spates, about her July telephone bill, emphasizing the word at her desk, stated in a markedly audible tone of voice the children’s rhyme, “liar, liar, pants on fire.” On another occasion a brief time later, Lutheria Harrison, upon entering Chris Robertson’s office to attend a weekly Litigation Support staff meeting, sighed the Yiddish phrase, Oy, veh.”
Complainant told Messrs. Race and Lassman that he interpreted the word “July” as a homophone for the phrase “Jew Lie,” and that these anecdotes suggested that some of his coworkers may have had an anti-semitic animus. Mr. Lassman requested that Complainant provide additional anecdotes that might suggest an anti-Semitic bias by employees. In response to Mr. Lassman’s question, and not on Complainant’s initiative, Complainant mentioned that the mascot of the Litigation Support group was a pig. (At this point Mr. Lassman turned to Mr. Race and said, “Dennis, you’re not Jewish. Jews aren’t allowed to eat pork.”)
Sherry Ann Patrick: COMPLAINANT'S REPLY TO RESPONDENT'S RESPONSE TO INTERROGATORIES AND DOCUMENT REQUEST
Typical of the unprofessional behavior of Litigation Support employees is the following incident. During the summer of 1991 Gregory Courtney, without the knowledge or consent of another employee, Sherrie Patrick (who occupied a work cubicle next to that of Complainant), plastered an approximate 2' x 3' wall of Ms. Patrick’s work cubicle with photographs of scantily-clad male models that he had apparently spent some time culling from magazines. Later, Litigation Support employees Gregory Courtney, Sherrie Patrick and Renee Lloyd engaged in a voluble and disruptive banter about the photographs.