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Court says discrimination suit against EEOC may proceed

An administrative law judge sued the commission for Rehabilitation Act violations

While it’s almost an everyday occurrence to see the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) name attached to a discrimination suit, it’s not too common that the EEOC is acting as a defendant. But that’s just the case in a suit the 9th Circuit revived yesterday. 

Former EEOC administrative law judge Mary Bullock, who suffers from multiple sclerosis and systemic lupus, sued the commission in 2008 for violating the Rehabilitation Act. Bullock said she had sought work accommodations for illnesses and the EEOC ignored those requests. When Bullock claimed the commission was discriminating against her, she claims it retaliated by withholding promotions, refusing to allow her to work from home and imposed tighter deadlines on her than it did on its nondisabled employees. She claimed she was eventually discharged.

In 2010, a federal district judge said Bullock hadn’t taken all the necessary administrative steps before suing the agency—she had filed too early. But the 9th Circuit said yesterday that Bullock didn’t need to wait to file her suit because an administrative law judge had already ruled on her complaint.

“The employee’s lawsuit in district court may proceed even though the employee filed and then withdrew an administrative appeal,” wrote Judge William A. Fletcher.

Read more InsideCounsel stories about the EEOC:

Labor: Harassment and discrimination suits can turn on the distinction between a supervisor and a co-worker

Labor: 7 ways to avoid trouble with the EEOC

Transgender employees protected under Title VII

Attendance policy can be enforced without violating employee’s ADA rights

Labor: No liability for pre-EEOC investigations

EEOC scrutinized blanket policies for ADA violations


Cathleen Flahardy

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