- The Washington Times - Monday, July 22, 2002

A Hispanic supervisor hired mostly Hispanic women to meet Department of Energy diversity goals and discriminated against whites, a civil rights lawsuit claims.
While project manager Anibal Taboas was staffing Chicago's Argonne National Lab with minorities, the lawsuit claims, a group of 44 employees mostly white men were sent to a new division created in 1995, where they were given minimal work and no training for the rest of their careers.
According to seven men who filed a federal lawsuit against former Energy Secretary Frederico F. Pena in Chicago, project manager Anibal Taboas and others received $10,000 "superbonuses" for hiring, training and promoting minorities. From 1989 to 1993, the suit claims, 26 out of 29 of Mr. Taboas' new hires were non-whites.
Mr. Taboas is "a racist and a discriminator who received substantial bonuses," said Tom Balamut, the primary plaintiff who worked at Argonne under Mr. Taboas. According to the lawsuit, Mr. Taboas also sexually harassed female employees and retaliated against those who complained.
Another plaintiff, geologist John Kasprowicz, claims Mr. Taboas went outside the Energy Department to fill positions in his Argonne Area Office with less-qualified candidates, without informing employees in the dead-end division about the job openings.
"He gave [minorities] preferential training opportunities [after hiring them] so on paper they quickly became the most qualified candidates for promotion," said Mr. Kasprowicz, who spent six years in the new division without a promotion.
President Bush, Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham and Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge will visit the Argonne site today for a speech on homeland defense.
"We stand by our personnel decisions and the actions of our supervisory employees," Energy spokesman Brian Quirke said Friday. "We trust the judicial system will rule in our favor."
"As advised by counsel, I will not comment on specifics," Mr. Taboas said in a statement. "Anyone can make [untrue] accusations. In fact, it can be done with impunity."
Mr. Kasprowicz, who started at Energy in 1987, was transferred to its new Safety and Technical Services Division (STS) when it was created in 1995.
He said STS exists primarily to phase out non-minority employees. Once there, his workload "diminished to the point of nothing," and he took a part-time job selling shoes at a Chicago Marshall Field's store to relieve his boredom. STS employees believed they were targeted for elimination under reduction in force policies.
"The department's nickname, even among supervisors, was 'the rif-ing pool,'" Mr. Kasprowicz said. "They made no secret they wanted us to retire."
After Mr. Kasprowicz sent copies of his time sheets to the department's inspector general in 1997, showing he was being paid $95,000 a year to do little more than check his e-mail, he was finally transferred last year to an office with more "challenging" work.
However, he and the six others are still seeking back pay, promotions and $300,000 damages each in the lawsuit, first filed in 1997. Lawyers say they expect the case to go to trial later this year.
Even today, Mr. Balamut said, people are being phased out through the "rif-ing pool." STS, which peaked at 47 employees, now has just 18.
"One guy I know got fed up with the lack of work and resigned within the past month or so," he said. "There are still people being harassed into retirement there on a regular basis."
Mr. Quirke said the Energy Department's diversity goals "have never been quotas." They are based on "equal access," and the annual diversity bonuses now are for only $2,000 to $3,000.
"We have goals to hire, train and promote minorities," the Energy spokesman said. "To my dismay, those $10,000 superbonuses lasted only three years."
The lawsuit claims Mr. Taboas had social relationships with female employees and retaliated against those who spoke up about it.
The filing includes a deposition from Judy Kelly, an Energy employee who said a pajama-clad Mr. Taboas invited her and another female colleague to his room at a Lake Geneva conference several years ago.


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