- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 12, 2002

A panel at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has found that officials at the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights retaliated against an employee for filing two federal complaints over procedures at the commission.
The panel, upholding a previous ruling from an administrative judge, has ordered that the employee, Emma Monroig, be reinstated and paid $165,000 in damages, legal fees and costs.
The panel also found that an affidavit by the agency's staff director at the time addressing the reasons for Miss Monroig's demotion "lacked credibility" and was a "pretext for discrimination."
Miss Monroig, in her initial complaint, said that she was discriminated against because she is Hispanic charges that were never proved despite the decision's mention of discrimination.
The case was filed in 1994. In accordance with legal procedure, civil rights commission Chairman Mary Frances Berry was named as the defendant.
At one point during the proceedings, Miss Berry had offered to serve as the representative for the commission during court hearings. Her request was denied, according to court documents, "given that the chair was the ultimate decision maker in the complaint."
The decision, handed down in April but only made public yesterday, asserts that Miss Monroig despite a performance evaluation in 1995 that rated her "fully successful" was unfairly demoted.
Miss Monroig was removed from her job as solicitor at the Commission on Civil Rights in 1995 after she filed a complaint with the employment commission over a job reassignment.
Miss Monroig filed a similar complaint in 1996, over her reassignment to a non-supervisory position.
She was eventually assigned to the commission's public-affairs office to work on a brochure entitled "Getting Uncle Sam to Enforce Your Civil Rights."
According to court documents, the director of the public-affairs office neither "requested the assignment of an attorney, nor did he think one was necessary to update the pamphlet."
"She was put into a job that was traditionally done by a non-attorney," said lawyer Edward H. Passman, who is representing Miss Monroig. "And she is now to be given back her old job as well as paid for her troubles."
But the Commission on Civil Rights, in a May 28 letter to the compliance officer at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, said it will hold the $165,000 in abeyance pending yet another appeal.
Meanwhile, the job that once belonged to Miss Monroig has also been proposed for elimination. In April, officials took the first action to eradicate the position of solicitor.
"It's in limbo. They haven't filled it for years, and we think it was to further their litigation posture," Mr. Passman said.

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