Last week, a federal court jury found that Corpus Christi Army Depot discriminated against and retaliated against Muprhy Junaid during his employment at CCAD. The federal court jury awarded $150,000 in lost wages and benefits and another $500,000 in emotional pain type damages. Mr. Junaid complained about discrimination by CCAD and then suffered discipline for what the jury found to be false allegations. He was written up for various offenses and then fired.
The amounts awarded will be subject to a statutory cap. So, the emotional suffering damages will be reduced to $300,000. See Junaid v. Department of the Army, No. 2:11-CV-226 (S.D.Tex. 2012).
The total amount of the plaintiff’s recovery will increase. Since, under Title VII, the successful plaintiff can also seek an award for attorney’s fees. The average discrimination case will result in 100-200 hours of attorney time, or more.
As with many such federal EEO complaints, Mr. Junaid had lost during the administrative complaint process – even at at an administrative trial before a judge. He also lost before the Merit Systems Protection Board. I am afraid this case shows how ineffective those processes can be for federal employees. Federal sector employees are fortunate that they have access to bodies like the MSPB and a formal EEO process. But, often, those processes offer little real protection.
It is remarkable that he lost before the MSPB and in his EEO appeal. He had evidence that his supervisor at the time lied and fabricated an incident which lead to his termination. His former supervisor claimed Mr. Junaid met with him but walked out in an act of insubordination. But, according to the Plaintiff’s response to Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment, four witnesses testified that Mr. Junaid was not at that meeting with his supervisor. In other words, the supervisor fabricated a final incident to get Mr. Junaid fired. The supervisor did this in the face of contrary evidence from four co-workers. Probably not a smart move by the supervisor.
The trial result also shows what can happen when management decides to discipline someone who has filed an EEO complaint. Management can and should impose discipline in appropriate circumstances. But, any discipline, while an EEO charge is pending, needs to be very objective and supported with solid evidence.