Friday, October 04, 2013

D.C. Workers' Compensation Claim

October 4, 2013 
3801 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Apartment 136
Washington, DC  20008

DC Department of Employment Services
Labor Standards Bureau
Office of Workers' Compensation
4058 Minnesota Avenue, NE, Third Floor
Washington, DC 20019
Phone: (202) 671-1000

Dear Sir or Madam:

I hereby file a claim for Workers' Compensation with the Department of Employment Services of the Government of the District of Columbia.  Enclosed are completed form
OWC-7 (Employee's Notice of Accidental Injury or Occupational Disease) and completed form OWC-7A (Employee's Claim Application).

I certify under penalty of perjury for making false statements that all the statements I make in support of my claim are true and correct to the best of my knowledge.  I certify that there is documentation that corroborates all the statements I make in support of my claim and that I will be able to forward copies of said documentation to the Department of Employment Services upon request.

________________

Gary Freedman
Washington, DC

STATEMENT IN SUPPORT OF WORKERS' COMPENSATION BENEFITS

1.  I was employed as a paralegal at the Washington, DC office of the law firm of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld ("Akin Gump," "the employer," or "the firm") during the period June 13, 1988, the date I was hired as a temporary paralegal, to October 29, 1991.  I had started work at Akin Gump in early March 1988 as an agency-supplied temporary paralegal. 

During the entirety of my tenure at Akin Gump I was subjected to a recognized subtle form of job harassment known as "workplace mobbing."

2.  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has
acknowledged the phenomenon of workplace mobbing, which the court defined as a form of "group harassment" that involves "a process of abusive behaviors inflicted over time." Sousa v. Roque, Docket No. 07-1892-CV, August 21, 2009.  "The mobbing syndrome is a malicious attempt to force a person out of the workplace through unjustified accusations, humiliation, general harassment, emotional abuse, and/or terror. It is a 'ganging up' by the leader(s) - organization, superior, co-worker, or subordinate – who rallies others in to systematic and frequent 'mob-like' behaviour.  Because the organization ignores, condones or even instigates the behaviour, it can be said that the victim, seemingly helpless against the powerful and many, is indeed 'mobbed.' The result is always injury – physical or mental distress or illness and social misery and, most often, expulsion from the workplace."    Davenport, N., Distler-Schwartz, R., & Pursell-Elliott, G. (1999). Mobbing: Emotional abuse in the American workplace. Ames, IA: Civil Society Publishing (referenced by the court in Sousa v. Roque, Docket No. 07-1892-CV, August 21, 2009).

California Assembly Bill 1582 (Abusive work environments), introduced in 2003, would have provided a civil legal remedy to victims of workplace mobbing in California but was not enacted.  Wisconsin Assembly Bill 894 (prohibiting abusive working environments), introduced in 2009, would have provided a civil legal remedy to victims of workplace mobbing in Wisconsin, but was not enacted. 

There is no anti-mobbing statute in the District of Columbia.  The District's Human Rights Act of 1977 (as amended) does not provide a civil remedy for abusive work environments, or workplace mobbing.

3.  In about November 1991 I provided to the D.C. Department of Human Rights (DHR) an approximate 20-page document describing the abusive working environment to which I was subjected during the entirety of my tenure at Akin Gump.  My allegations of facts concerning the abusive working environment, or mobbing, were affirmed as genuine and truthful by the Government of the District of Columbia in an unlawful job termination complaint and subsequent litigation styled Freedman v. D.C. Department of Human Rights, D.C.C.A. no. 96-CV-961 (Sept. 1, 1998).  See Brief of Appellee (D.C. Office of Corporation Counsel).

The following findings made by DHR, admissions or statements made by Akin Gump (including its supervisory employees), and affirmations made by the D.C. Office of Corporation Counsel highlight the conclusion that I was a victim of workplace mobbing:

(a.)  DHR found that
I consulted regularly with Mental Health Counselors, Psychologists and Psychiatrists starting in 1989 with 28 consultations between January 1 and October 8, 1991. Some of those consultations were with professionals connected with Akin Gump’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP).  DHR found that I invited my supervisor to attend one of my sessions with a psychologist, implicitly indicating that my psychological distress was work-related. 

(b.) The District of Columbia Office of Corporation Counsel ("the Corporation Counsel"), predecessor of the District of Columbia Office of Attorney General, affirmed that I learned on May 3, 1989 that Akin Gump coworkers had spread a sexual rumor about me to the effect that I was homosexual.   At common law the spreading of a false rumor that an individual is homosexual would be actionable as defamation per se.  See, e.g., Stern v. Cosby,
645 F.Supp.2d 258 (S.D.N.Y. 2009); Murphy v. Millenium Radio Group LLC, 2011 WL 2315128 (3rd Cir. 2011).

Moreover, malicious rumors and innuendo in the workplace are behaviors critical to mobbing.  Davenport, et al. (see paragraph 2, above) identify mobbing as a particular type of bullying that is not as apparent as most, defining it as " . . . an emotional assault. It begins when an individual becomes the target of disrespectful and harmful behavior. Through innuendo, rumors, and public discrediting, a hostile environment is created in which one individual gathers others to willingly, or unwillingly, participate in continuous malevolent actions to force a person out of the workplace."  Davenport, N., Distler-Schwartz, R., & Pursell-Elliott, G. (1999). Mobbing: Emotional abuse in the American workplace. Ames, IA: Civil Society Publishing (referenced by the court in Sousa v. Roque, Docket No. 07-1892-CV, August 21, 2009).

(c.) The Corporation Counsel affirmed that in early August 1989 a coworker said to me: "We're all afraid of you.  We're all afraid you're going to buy a gun, bring it in and shoot everybody."  The statement was unfounded and delusional.  The statement was not supported by my personnel records.  DHR found that my performance evaluations throughout my tenure were above-average or outstanding.  A performance evaluation dated November 6, 1989 that covered the previous six-month period (i.e., including August 1989) specifically rated my ability to get along with coworkers as "above-average."  My personnel file contained no record of any reprimands, either oral or written.  The coworker in question, a temporary paralegal, was later reportedly terminated for gross misconduct in May 1990.

Guidelines of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration
(OSHA) state that false, malicious, delusional and unfounded statements that tend to damage an employee's reputation and inflict severe emotional distress constitute a form of verbal intimidation that are rightly termed  “workplace violence.” 

One researcher in the field of workplace mobbing has found that
"mobbers’ fear of violence from target" is one of 16 key indicators of mobbing.  Westhues, K. Checklist of Mobbing Indicators.  Kenneth Westhues is a professor of sociology at the University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.

In mid-September 1989 I consulted Akin Gump's EAP to report my concerns about workplace mobbing and workplace violence (per OSHA Guidelines).  My EAP chart states that I complained about the above delusional statement by a coworker to the EAP social worker with whom I consulted.

(d.) In March 1990 I was demoted without cause from the firm's legal assistant program to the firm's litigation support group.  Akin Gump admitted in unrelated litigation that a transfer from the firm's legal assistant program to the firm's litigation support group constituted a demotion.  DHR found that my performance evaluations were above-average or outstanding throughout my tenure; DHR did not explain or justify the demotion. 

(e.) The record on appeal in Freedman v. D.C. Department of Human Rights -- the appeal of DHR's no probable cause determination issued in September 1993 -- reports that I learned on July 1, 1993 that my direct supervisor told her employees (my coworkers) a short time after my termination on October 29, 1991 that she was afraid that I might return to the firm to kill her and my coworkers in a mass homicidal assault.  Reportedly, the supervisor arranged with staff to have the lock to her office suite changed to prevent my re-entry.  Neither the supervisor nor her superiors contacted law enforcement about fears that I might be homicidal.  The supervisor reported directly to a senior firm partner, who was a member of Akin Gump's management committee.

My patient records at The George Washington University Medical Center Department of Psychiatry, where I received out-patient treatment from September 1992 to June 1996, indicate that there was a severe worsening in my mental condition in August 1993, weeks after I learned that my supervisor had made false, delusional and unfounded statements about me to my former coworkers and staff members.

Again,
OSHA guidelines state that false, malicious, delusional and unfounded statements that tend to damage an employee's reputation and inflict severe emotional distress constitute a form of verbal intimidation that are rightly termed  “workplace violence.” 

With specific regard to workplace mobbing, when mobbing occurs as emotional abuse in the workplace, such as "ganging up" by co-workers, subordinates -- or superiors -- to force someone out of the workplace through intimidation, humiliation, and discrediting it is also referred to as malicious, nonsexual, nonracial, general harassment.  Davenport, N., Distler-Schwartz, R., & Pursell-Elliott, G. (1999). Mobbing: Emotional abuse in the American workplace. Ames, IA: Civil Society Publishing (referenced by the court in Sousa v. Roque, Docket No. 07-1892-CV, August 21, 2009).

"Mobbers’ fear of violence from target" is one of 16 key indicators of mobbing.  Westhues, K. Checklist of Mobbing Indicators.

(f.)  I have been continuously disabled and unemployed since October 29, 1991.  The effective date of my disability, October 29, 1991, is drawn from allegations made in a sworn declaration filed on May 22, 1992 with DHR by Dennis M. Race, Esq. and Laurence J. Hoffman, Esq., senior Akin Gump management partners.  According to the declaration Akin Gump had been advised by a DC-licensed practicing psychiatrist, Gertrude R. Ticho, M.D. (deceased) that I appeared to suffer from the psychiatric "disorder" ideas of reference (consistent with schizophrenia), that I was not fit for employment and that I could become violent (i.e., that I posed a "direct threat in the workplace" which arguably denied me, as a disabled American, the protections of The Americans With Disabilities Act). 

According to a second sworn declaration filed on May 17, 1993 by Akin Gump with DHR, Race and Malcolm Lassman, Esq. consulted Dr. Ticho in a telephone conference call in late October 1991 to seek advice and guidance concerning a job harassment complaint I had lodged against my supervisor and coworkers pursuant to Title VII and/or The D.C. Human Rights Act of 1977.  Freedman v. D.C. Department of Human Rights, D.C.C.A. no. 96-CV-961 (Memorandum Opinion and Judgment, Sept. 1, 1998) ("the firm . . . learned [upon consulting a practicing psychiatrist] that [Mr. Freedman's] behavior was indicative of a disorder known as 'ideas of reference,' which is sometimes accompanied by violent behavior.').  Dr. Ticho did not examine me in person.  I never met Dr. Ticho or had any contact with her of any kind prior to October 29, 1991.  According to Race, Dr. Ticho was a "personal friend" of Lassman, a senior firm manager.


Since Akin Gump's psychiatric consultant, Dr. Ticho had never examined me personally her professional opinion violated the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA'S) so-called Goldwater Rule which prohibits a psychiatrist from offering a professional psychiatric opinion about an individual without benefit of personal examination and without the individual’s consent for the opinion. (The D.C. Code in its latest revision makes it unlawful for a physician to "[fail] to conform to standards of acceptable conduct and prevailing practice within a health profession." See D.C. Code 2-3305.14(26). This provision was added to the D.C. Health Occupations Revision Act by D.C. Law 10-247, enacted on March 23, 1995.  Under current District law the act of Akin Gump partners (Race and Lassman) in soliciting a professional psychiatric opinion about an employee without personal examination and without the employee's consent for the opinion might be deemed criminal.)

DHR determined that the psychiatric opinion proffered by Akin Gump to DHR (in May 1992) was genuine and credible.  In fact, the act of Akin Gump's attorney managers, Race and Hoffman -- who were themselves licensed professionals, sensitive to the ethical constraints imposed on other licensed professionals -- in proffering a medically-unfounded psychiatric opinion about me to DHR that was defamatory on its face, was a malicious act of intimidation, humiliation and discrediting that damaged my reputation.

OSHA guidelines state that false, malicious, (delusional) and unfounded statements that tend to damage an employee's reputation and inflict severe emotional distress constitute a form of verbal intimidation that are rightly termed  “workplace violence.” 

Again, with specific regard to workplace mobbing, when mobbing occurs as emotional abuse in the workplace, such as "ganging up" by co-workers, subordinates -- or superiors -- to force someone out of the workplace through intimidation, humiliation, and discrediting it is also referred to as malicious, nonsexual, nonracial, general harassment. 
Davenport, N., Distler-Schwartz, R., & Pursell-Elliott, G. (1999). Mobbing: Emotional abuse in the American workplace. Ames, IA: Civil Society Publishing (referenced by the court in Sousa v. Roque, Docket No. 07-1892-CV, August 21, 2009).

Arguably, I have been denied the protections of the Americans with Disabilities Act because I was deemed by Akin Gump “potentially violent, ” i.e., a “direct threat in the workplace” based on the above-referenced defamatory allegation made by Akin Gump, a defamatory allegation that was affirmed as genuine and credible by DHR, a state human rights agency. The U.S. Supreme Court has held private citizens to be liable as state actors when they conspire with government officials to deprive persons of their rights. Thus, my former employer, Akin Gump may have committed a “color of law violation,” a felony that falls within the investigative jurisdiction of the FBI. See 18 USC § 241 (Conspiracy against rights).  

4.  Neither Akin Gump nor the Corporation Counsel denied that I was a victim of workplace mobbing.  The issue of whether I was a victim of workplace mobbing was never litigated since there is no anti-mobbing statute in the District of Columbia.  No administrative agency or court has ever determined that I was not a victim of workplace mobbing.

5.  Since May 2009 I have been a patient at the McClendon Center, a Core Services Agency of the District of Columbia, where I receive medical management for mental illness.  On September 17, 2013 I was advised in an email message by Dennis Hobb, Program Manager, McClendon Center that my chart includes the following psychiatric diagnoses: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Major Depression, Alcohol Dependence (in remission), and Paranoia (as well as Schizoid Personality Disorder, a non-psychotic psychiatric disorder that does not render an individual unemployable, but that may require that the individual's need to work in isolation be accommodated by the employer under the Americans With Disabilities Act).  Prior to that email message of September 17, 2013, I was not aware of my psychiatric diagnoses or the causal connection between my illness and the workplace mobbing to which I was subjected at Akin Gump.

-----Original Message-----
From: Dennis Hobb <dhobb@mcclendoncenter.org>
To: 'Gary Freedman' <garfreed@netscape.net>
Cc: 'Natalie Nichols' <nnichols@mcclendoncenter.org>; 'Michael Burt' <mburt@mcclendoncenter.org>; 'Anne Degirolamo' <adegirolamo@mcclendoncenter.org>; 'Sallie Twentyman' <stwentyman@mcclendoncenter.org>
Sent: Tue, Sep 17, 2013 3:57 pm
Subject: RE: : Complaint against Nurse Sara F. Carroll

Mr. Freedman,

At the McClendon Center we take allegations of Medicare/Medicaid fraud and abuse very seriously.  Actual fraud would have been committed if Nurse Carroll had billed for services that she didn't provide.  I have no reason to believe that she did not see you on the days for which she billed, so I believe no fraud was committed.  Abuse can encompass a range of issues.  It can vary from claiming too much (or too little) time with the patient, or it can be committed if you did not have a valid treating diagnosis.  Your file contains the following diagnoses: Delusional Disorder (297.1), Major Depression Recurrent Severe Without Psychotic Features (296.33), Alcohol Dependence in Sustained Remission (303.90), and PTSD (309.81), and Schizoid Personality Disorder (301.20).  These diagnoses were made by Aimee Calderone-Burgess, who is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social worker, and therefore qualified to diagnose mental health conditions in the District of Columbia.  As you have valid DSM diagnoses and are being appropriately treated by an Advance Practice Registered Nurse, I believe your allegations of Medicare/Medicaid fraud are unfounded.  However, it is your prerogative to contact an appropriate agency such as the Office of Health Care Ombudsman to register your concerns.  You have my assurance that we will cooperate fully in any investigation conducted by any oversight agency at which you register a complaint.

Dennis Hobb

6.  Major Depression, PTSD, Alcohol Dependence, and Paranoia are medically-recognized consequences of workplace mobbing.

Victims of workplace mobbing frequently suffer from: adjustment disorders, somatic symptoms (e.g., headaches or irritable bowel syndrome),psychological trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder and major depresssion).  In mobbing targets with PTSD, Heinz Leymann notes that the mental effects were fully comparable with PTSD from war or prison camp experiences. Some patients may develop alcoholism or other substance abuse disorders. Family relationships routinely suffer. Some targets may even develop brief psychotic episodes, generally with paranoid symptoms. Leymann estimated that 15% of suicides in Sweden could be directly attributed to workplace mobbing.  Hillard JR "Workplace mobbing: Are they really out to get your patient?" Current Psychiatry 8(4): 45-51, April 2009.

Akin Gump admits that I suffered from paranoid symptoms during my employment at the firm.  The D.C. Workers' Compensation program administers the special/second injury fund, which provides benefits in instances where an injury combines with a pre-existing disability to cause a substantially greater disability.

7.  On January 15, 2010 I was interviewed by Deputy Marshal xxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx (202 xxx xxxx) of the U.S. Marshals Service (U.S. Department of Justice) as part of a threat investigation relating to U.S. District Court Judge xxxxx xxxxx xxxxxxx (District of Columbia).  Deputy Marshal xxxxxxxxxx was concerned about my obsessive preoccupation with my employment experience at Akin Gump and the intense anger expressed in my writings published on the Internet about that employment experience.   Deputy Marshal xxxxxxxxxx specifically asked, "What was your motivation in writing a blog (titled 'My Daily Struggles')?"  He added that he had been reading my blog for the previous two months, since November 2009.

Anger, obsessive preoccupation with past trauma, and the potential for violent acting out are symptoms of PTSD.  Thus, the U.S. Department of Justice has affirmed as genuine the symptoms diagnosed by the McClendon Center as constituting PTSD, a recognized consequence of workplace mobbing.

In an email message dated June 7, 2011 USMS Associate General Counsel xxx xxxxx advised me that the USMS instituted a threat investigation in January 2010 because I had "sent numerous communications to U.S. District Court Judge xxxxx xxxxx xxxxxxx" (beginning with a letter dated August 14, 2000, more than a decade ago, in which I accused Judge xxxxxxx of a possible ethical infraction for failing to recuse herself from presiding over my Petition for Review of Agency Determination when she sat as a judge on the D.C. Superior Court).

8.  I advised the U.S. Department of Justice by letter dated January 5, 1994 that I had suffered severe emotional distress as a result of Akin Gump's action in using the legal processes of a state agency, DHR to defame me in pleadings filed by the firm (in May 1992) with that agency.

There is no evidence that I suffered from Major Depression or PTSD prior to September 1992, that is before I learned in late December 1992 that Akin Gump had used the legal processes of a state agency (in May 1992) to defame, humiliate and embarrass me, which resulted in the infliction of extreme emotional distress.   I underwent a 2-hour psychiatric assessment at the George Washington University Medical Center Department of Psychiatry (GW) in September 1992.  GW's initial assessment dated September 24, 1992 does not state that I suffered from either Major Depression or PTSD at that time.  These disorders arose later.

Experts in workplace mobbing recognize that a frequently encountered aspect of the phenomenon is that the employer himself ultimately colludes with coworkers in mobbing behavior which typically features behaviors intended to defame, humiliate and embarrass the mobbing victim and which includes mobbers' fears that the mobbing victim may become violent.  Thus, an expert in workplace mobbing could very well conclude that Akin Gump's act of filing false and defamatory written statements about me in May 1992 (seven months after my employment ended on October 29, 1991) -- statements that included the allegation by Akin Gump that the firm feared that I might become violent -- with a state agency was, in fact, an integral part of the mobbing.  See paragraph 2, above, for example.  In workplace mobbing the organization "condones or even instigates the behaviour."


9.  Under the D.C. Worker's Compensation program a claimant is required to report job-related injury or illness in writing to the Office of Workers’ Compensation within 30 days of occurrence or awareness.  I became aware that I suffered from the recognized consequences of workplace mobbing experienced at Akin Gump (1988-1991) on September 17, 2013 by way of the above email message (see paragraph 3, above) sent to me by Dennis Hobb, Program Manager of the McClendon Center. 

I have until October 17, 2013 to file a timely claim for workers' compensation from the Department of Employment Services on the grounds that there is a causal link between the workplace mobbing I experienced at Akin Gump from 1988-1991 and the recognized consequences of workplace mobbing in the form of Major Depression, PTSD, Alcohol Dependence (in remission), and Paranoid symptoms: disorders about which I first became aware on September 17, 2013 (see paragraph 5, above).


Gary Freedman
3801 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Apt. 136
Washington, DC  20008
telephone: 202 362 7064

2 comments:

Gary Freedman said...

Precedent Setting Decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, restoring the right to free speech for public employees with significant implications for the civil rights of public employees.
Docket No. 07-1892-cv, Sousa v. Roque (Appellate Court Judges: John Gleason and Jose A. Cabranes, Decided August 21, 2009)


Appellate Court verdict Docket No. 07-1982-CV regarding a case involving a culture of mobbing at the State of Conncticut Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). Bryan J Sousa, Plaintiff-Appellant, writes in a personal e-mail: „After reporting a culture of mobbing, I was retaliated against by DEP management (Department of Environmental Protection, State of Connecticut) to the point where I was driven from the workforce with failing health, then ultimately fired. I thereupon filed a lawsuit in Federal court asserting, amongst other things, violations of my civil rights and intentional infliction of emotional distress by DEP management. However, a Federal judge initially ruled that my case was ineligible for trial in Federal court since the issues I raised were, in the judge's opinion, not ‘matters of public concern’ due to the fact that the issues were intermixed with an employment dispute. I therefore appealed the decision and won. In summary, the Appellate Court ruled that the issues I expressed were indeed matters of public concern regardless of the context in which they were raised. More specifically: ‘The speakers' motive, while one factor that may be considered, is not dispositive as to whether his speech addressed a matter of public concern’.”

The book Mobbing, Emotional Abuse in the American Workplace was central to the credibility of this case. In its decision, the Appellate Court Judge Cabranes quoted an e-mail by Plaintiff-Appellant, Bryan Sousa, to DEP Management making reference to the book and the insights it provided. The judge furthermore, referred to the terminology “mobbing” in the verdict (p.4) to denote Sousa’s complaints: “Sousa complained about incidents of group harassment against him called “mobbing,” which is a process of abusive behaviors inflicted over time. Specifically, he reported that he had been harassed by various lower-level employees and that ……” (See page 4 of decision).

Gary Freedman said...

sent certified mail 10/4/2013