Thursday, June 09, 2011

Akin Gump: Inconsistent Testimony -- Defrauding a Federal Court

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).


Gary Freedman

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.”)


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.


Gary Freedman said...

5. April 8, 1991 - mid-August 1991: Terrace Level. In mid-August 1991 I requested of my supervisor that she allow me to be moved to a private office and complained of the noise situation in the terrace level, and discussed certain harassing incidents that I had experienced while working on the 9th floor. This was the only occasion during my employment that I requested of any supervisory employee that I be permitted to move to a private office. (On this occasion, I also requested of my supervisor for the first and only time that she consider having me reassigned to the legal assistant group; my supervisor did not get back to me regarding this request, and I concluded that it would be pointless to ask anyone other than Earl Segal, the partner in charge of the legal assistant program, for such a reassignment.) She acknowledged that noise was a problem in the terrace level, but that she felt there was nothing she could do about the noise. She said she even considered having all the employees’ private telephones removed to cut down on employees’ excessive use of telephones for nonbusiness purposes. The meeting with my supervisor on this occasion in mid-August 1991 was called by her in response to a complaint by a fellow employee, Gregory Courtney, that I had told him to “shut up” earlier that morning. I denied the accusation and explained that I had told Greg Courtney, who was having a loud conversation with another employee, Richard Taylor, to “hold it down.” At that time I had just commenced work on the Hoechst project, which required a quietwork environment. I did not interpret the meeting with my supervisor as a reprimand, nor was I advised that it was intended as such. If anything, my supervisor seemed to find the incident amusing, and confided in me her difficulties in trying to control her other employees’ behavior (including their overuse of the telephone for personal telephone conversations) and her difficulties in hiring conscientious employees such as me. (Also, this was the only interaction with a supervisor that even remotely resembled a reprimand.) On no occasion did I ever tell another employee to “shut up;” on two occasions I politely asked a co-worker, Melissa Whitney, to turn down her radio, which she listened to without earphones. It was Gregory Courtney’s intentional misrepresentation to my supervisor, which my supervisor communicated to me, that prompted my request on this occasion in mid-August 1991 to be moved or, in the alternative, to be reassigned to the legal assistant group. The incident confirmed my suspicion that my co-workers on the terrace level had a propensity to act in an irrational and malicious manner.

Gary Freedman said...

Attorney for Akin Gump in McNeil was Robert Higgins, Esq. of Dickstein Shapiro.

Gary Freedman said...

On the evening of July 1, 1993 I spoke by telephone with a former Akin Gump coworker, Patricia McNeil. Summarized below are selected, material comments made by Pat McNeil. I supplied a copy of the tape recording of the phone call to the DC Corporation Counsel, the U.S. Secret Service, and the D.C. Police (Second District, Officer J.E. Williams, Badge 1226).

1. I thought you were a very professional person, a quiet person, who stayed to himself. I respected that. Some people are just not people-oriented.

2. I never thought you were a violent person.

3. [Noting that I posted therapists' appointment cards at my desk:] I heard people say, "He must be crazy, he's always going to a psychiatrist."

4. [Quoting comments by another coworker, Carletta Diggins, concerning my termination:] Carletta said, "I wonder what they did to Gary? Gary was such a nice person. He was really a quiet person. He didn't bother anyone." I told Carletta, "as good of a person as Gary is -- his work speaks for itself, it couldn't have been his work -- what did he do?" She said, "I don't know, Pat."

5. [States facetiously:] All of a sudden you became this crazy person. When you were hired you weren't crazy. When do you think you became crazy?

6. [Concerning Dennis Race's investigation of my allegation of harassment:] Dennis Race didn't question anybody in the Department. He never talked to me. If he did an investigation, wouldn't you think that he'd have talked to various ones in the Department? I don't know of anyone in the Department he talked to. Maybe he only talked to selected people Chris Robertson picked, Chris' favorites. [Note that Pat McNeil's conjecture suggests a violation by my supervisor, Chris Robertson, of D.C. Code sec. 1-2525(b), prohibiting the aiding or abetting of retaliation.]

7. All I know is that Chris said, "You all know that Gary is gone. And they're coming to change the locks, because we're afraid Gary may come back and he may try to kill me." I never pictured you to be a person who would do something like that.

8. Lutheria Harrison and Sherri Ann Patrick were promoted to paralegals. [Lutheria Harrison and Sherri Ann Patrick fit in the category of "Chris Robertson's favorites."]

Freedman v. D.C. Dept. of Human Rights, Record at 41.