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Federal worker could win employment discrimination case

A federal worker accused a Maryland Social Security Administration officer of unfairly discriminating against her based on her age, race and sex. The woman filed an employment discrimination claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission after she lost a team leader position with her Social Security office in 2001. The EEOC enforces measures aimed at reducing employment discrimination throughout the United States.

While the EEOC ruled that the Maryland SSA office had indeed unlawfully discriminated against the worker, the SSA did not restore her to her original position despite promising to do so. This made it difficult for her to regain her job, with a district court ruling against her because the EEOC had not confirmed that the SSA had disobeyed an order.

However, the woman had more luck in an appeals court. The lower court's ruling was overturned, with the appeals court issuing a decision in favor of the worker. The court's opinion argues that the EEOC's acceptance of the SSA's promises to reinstate the worker and the district court's decision were founded on "what can only be deemed a deceptive and false assertion of compliance made by the SSA." The opinion even accuses the SSA of subverting justice, claiming the government agency "misled the EEOC" but repeatedly ignored orders to return the plaintiff to her original role.

Neither agency has commented on the recent ruling, with the EEOC saying it would not comment due to the Privacy Act. Earlier in 2012, the SSA issued a statement proclaiming that it was not responsible for any wrongdoing. The statement reads, "We deny all of the allegations made by [the plaintiff] about the agency and we expect to prevail."

Although the woman has been retired for several years, her attorney told reporters that this does not interfere with her legal right to be reinstated to her previous position at the SSA. "If she had her old job . . . she would have happily stayed on another couple of years," he explained.

Source: Washington Post, "Federal worker prevails in discrimination case against Social Security," Joe Davidson, Feb. 21, 2012

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