The United States Department of Justice and INS EEO
Sticking it to the People through Legal Maneuverings
In the US Federal Court discrimination case of Caryl Leventhal vs. Janet Reno and the US Department of Justice [CASE NUMBER:99CIV.10405 FILED OCTOBER 08, 1999], the Plaintiff chose to leave the Justice Department's prerequisite Administrative Process prior to their making a "Final Decision" on a truncated set of Issues. This can only be done at certain points within the process under a very limited window of opportunity. This is a crucial decision to make.
LTC Michael G. Leventhal
In a case involving suit against a Federal Agency like the US Department of Justice, a Complainant (the term used in the mandatory prerequisite Administrative Process), or a Plaintiff (the term used in a Federal Court Suit), is very pressed for time. Sometimes, the aggrieved party has as little as FIFTEEN DAYS to respond or their valid Complaint is thrown out. This is very different in a case involving the Private Sector, where the aggrieved may have three years.
This is not coincidental. When American Citizens were given the right to sue a Federal Agency, it was the Government that wrote the rules of engagement. These rules were designed to "cook the books," so to speak. For an aggrieved Federal Employee or former Federal Employee, the prerequisite Administrative Process is designed to give the agency's Equal Employment Opportunity section the ability to decide which Complaints fit within their definition of being "Politically Correct" or safe. Complaints that are considered embarrassing can be obstructed and reduced to have little meaning.
If the Complainant stays in the Administrative EEO Process to completion and is not happy with the results, they have NINETY DAYS to file suit in US Federal Court. If they can't secure legal counsel to take the case on a contingency basis or don't have the money to pay for legal help during that short window of opportunity, they lose all rights to file suit under Title VII. If they secure counsel, after remaining in the allegedly fair Administrative EEO Process to its conclusion on Agency terms, Bases and Issues not accepted by the Department's EEO section and Adjudicator are routinely thrown out in US Federal Court. In this way, the Agency has an "easier" case, with limited or even no liability.
During Pre-Trial motions in US Federal Court, Government lawyers will claim that the Bases and Issues disallowed by the Agency's EEO section and Adjudicator were "ABANDONED" by the Complainant. It is alleged that proof of this abandonment is the Complainant choosing to continue in the Administrative Process to completion.
None of this is ever explained to the aggrieved party who enters the process with the feeling that justice will be secured. This is routinely done within the US Department of Justice and its Bureaus.
Working within the Agency EEO Administrative process does have some positive points: (1) You can accumulate a tremendous amount of Discovery if it becomes necessary to file a US Federal Court law suit. Government Agency's are terrible at providing information during Discovery in court. The US Department of Justice and its Bureaus are particularly stubborn, in spite of being ordered to do so by the court. (2) At a point, you can request a review by an Administrative Law Judge in the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The USEEO only has the right of recommendation to the Agency and can only act on an Assignment Letter sent by the Federal Agency. This can be severely truncated in scope. Also, if you accept the Bases and Issues in the Agency Assignment Letter, you are virtually assured of Abandonment Motions on other Bases and Issues. On the other hand, Caryl Leventhal got an excellent USEEO Administrative Law Judge. His fairness, wisdom and openness proved invaluable for developing a sound legal strategy in acting on her complaint.
Written and Copyright © by: LTC Michael G. Leventhal
Copyright 1999 Reproduction with written permission. Contact: Michael @Justice-Denied.net