GW, Akin Gump, D.C. Corporation Counsel: Ask not from whom the Social Security Administration's disability determination comes -- it comes from thee!
March 22, 1993
3801 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20008
Suzanne M. Pitts, MD
Dept. of Psychiatry
GW Univ. Medical School
2150 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20037
Dear Dr. Pitts:
Enclosed is a Statement to be submitted to the U.S. Social Security Administration in connection with a claim for disability benefits. You may wish to contact Mr. Dennis Race at Akin Gump to obtain further details regarding the circumstances of my termination and his consultations with mental health professionals.
[handwritten note by Dr. Pitts: “rec’d hand carried”]
STATEMENT OF MATERIAL FACTS IN SUPPORT OF
CLAIM FOR SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY BENEFITS
1. I, Gary Freedman, have been unemployed continuously since Tuesday, October 29, 1991, at which time I was involuntarily terminated for cause by the law firm of Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld (“Akin Gump,” “former employer,” or “firm”), located at 1333 New Hampshire Avenue, NW, Suite 400, Washington, DC 20036 (202 887-4000). I had been employed at Akin Gump since June 13, 1988 in the capacity of a legal assistant.
2. The decision by Akin Gump management to terminate was made a few days after I had stated my belief to members of management that I was a victim of harassment by co-workers and following my request for a more substantive employment position. I was advised at the termination meeting on October 29, 1991 by Dennis Race (202 887-4028), an attorney manager of the firm, that my allegations of harassment could not be substantiated. I was further advised that there appeared to be a lack of fit between me and other firm employees and that in such a situation termination was the only viable option for my employer.
3. On February 4, 1992 I filed a complaint with the Government of the District of Columbia Department of Human Rights (“DOHR”) (202 939-8740) alleging that my former employer’s action in terminating my employment was discriminatory in violation of the District of Columbia Human Rights Act of 1977. The complaint alleges that my former employer’s decision to terminate was unlawfully motivated by management’s belief that I was a homosexual. The investigation of the complaint by the D.C. Department of Human Rights is pending.
4. In Akin Gump’s Response to the DOHR complaint, dated May 22, 1992, my former employer states that the decision to terminate my employment was made following consultations between Dennis Race and two mental health professionals, including a psychiatrist and a representative of the firm’s Employee Assistance Program, Sheppard Pratt Preferred Resources (202 429-1950); the names of these mental heath professionals are not disclosed in the Response. The Response states that the psychiatrist with whom Dennis Race consulted characterized my tendency to place a negative interpretation on many interactions with co-workers as "ideas of reference,” and warned that I might become violent. The Response states that both mental health professionals consulted by Dennis Race did not object to my former employer’s decision to terminate. The Response characterizes my behavior at my former place of employment as “violent” and states that my mental state was “paranoid.” The Response further states that Dennis Race was apprised by firm employees during the course of his investigation into my statements of harassment that I had difficulty communicating with my peers, that my behavior was disruptive, and that I demanded to work in total isolation. In a confidential memo to file than bears the date October 29, 1991, Dennis Race states that given the circumstances, the firm’s failure to terminate my employment might prove to be negligent. The description of my mental state and interpersonal difficulties contained in the Response is consistent with a DSM-III diagnosis of 297.10, Delusional (Paranoid) Disorder, a psychotic condition.
5. I believe that I am employable, and that Akin Gump’s decision to terminate was unlawful, malicious and discriminatory. However, my conviction that I am employable and the interpretation I place on my former employer’s decision to terminate may be evidence of my inability to appreciate the seriousness of what my former employer considers to be a debilitating mental disorder that renders me unemployable. I believed that I was employable at the time of my termination by Akin Gump management on October 29, 1991, despite the opinions of two mental health professionals and a committee of attorney managers who possess considerable experience in personnel administration.
6. Following my filing of a Complaint with DOHR, my former employer was offered an opportunity to mediate the Complaint with DOHR; the offer to mediate is continuing in nature. Akin Gump has refused to mediate the Complaint with DOHR, which indicates that my former employer continues to believe that its decision to terminate, based as it was on the rationale that I suffered from a serious mental disorder, was justified. Apparently, my employer believes that I continue to suffer from a serious mental disorder that renders me unemployable.
7. During my employment with Akin Gump I consulted with a number of mental health professionals, including a local psychiatrist, Dr. Stanley R. Palombo (202 362-6004), with whom I consulted weekly from late January 1990 until early December 1990. During my employment I also consulted on three occasions with mental health counselors employed by Sheppard Pratt Preferred Responses, the firm's designated Employee Assistance Program.
(There is a possibility that the two mental health professionals that Dennis Race consulted prior to my termination were mental health professionals that I had previously consulted. As an attorney, Mr. Race would have been aware that any attempt on his part to have a mental health professional divulge confidential mental health information without my consent might constitute (1) an attempt to solicit the violation of or (2) conspiracy to violate the District of Columbia Mental Health Information Act, which prohibits such disclosures. For Mr. Race to risk the appearance of his having committed acts that might result in criminal prosecution and professional disciplinary proceedings up to and including disbarment, suggests that Mr. Race may have had sound reasons to believe that my continued presence in the firm posed a grave and immediate danger to other employees.)
8. I am currently in therapy with Dr. Suzanne M. Pitts, a resident at the Department of Psychiatry, George Washington University Medical Center (202 994-4078). I began weekly consultations with Dr. Pitts in late October 1992; twice weekly consultations were instituted in late January 1993.
9. I continue to hold certain ideas regarding the actions of my former employer that might be termed delusional in that the ideas are not substantiated. The ideas might be termed paranoid in that they are systematic. I believe that my former employer:
(a.) has had regular and frequent communications with my sister, Mrs. Estelle Jacobson (609 727-3295). I believe that these communications began in late October 1988 and continue to this day. My sister denies that she has ever had such communications.
(b.) has been in communication with the Department of Psychiatry, George Washington University Medical Center regarding the course of my therapy with Dr. Pitts (202 994-4078). Dr. Pitts denies that she has ever had such communications.
(c.) routinely communicated, without my consent, with mental health professionals with whom I was in therapy during the period of my employment. None of the mental health professionals I consulted admitted, when asked, that they were in communication with my employer.
(d.) obtained access to my apartment on about January 2, 1990, prepared a video tape of my apartment, and sent the tape to my sister. My sister denies any communications with my former employer.
(e.) gave a copy of my autobiography to the U.S. Secretary of State, James Baker, in June 1991. I further believe that my former employer provided a copy of my autobiography to Professor Peter Gay at Yale University, Professor Harold Bloom of New York University and Yale University, Dr. Gerald Post, Dr. Ernst Ticho, and Dr. Anthony Storr in the United Kingdom, among others.
(d.) had an informal agreement with the resident manager of my apartment building, Ms. Elaine Wranik, whereby the manager would enter and inspect my apartment on a daily basis, without my consent, and report her findings back to my former employer. I believe these inspections lasted from at least April 1989 until early February 1992.
I further believe that during the entire period of my employment at Akin Gump I was harassed almost daily on the basis of perceived sexual orientation by co-workers, supervisory personnel, associates and partners of my former employer. My former employer states that my allegations of harassment cannot be substantiated and that my beliefs regarding the harassment are the product of a mental disturbance that rendered my continued presence in the firm untenable. My former employer states that my beliefs, which the employer has termed “paranoid,” are related to a mental disorder that renders me potentially violent (or violent) and disruptive and presumably unemployable.