Monday, September 23, 2002

A D.C. Emergency Medical Services supervisor whose advice prompted three rookie medics to get abortions last year has retired, her attorney and several fire department sources say.
The supervisor, interim Assistant EMS Chief Samanthia Robinson, told a class of emergency medical technician trainees in March 2001 they could be fired if they got pregnant during their first year on the job.
The Washington Times first reported in August 2001 that a 21-year-old rookie one of six women in the class discovered she was pregnant two months after the orientation class and terminated her pregnancy. Two other women in the same class subsequently came forward with similar stories.
Contacted at her home yesterday, Miss Robinson said coverage of the incident had been “very unfair,” but declined to elaborate. She referred calls to her attorney, Paul Strauss, shadow senator for the District.
Mr. Strauss said Miss Robinson was being “unfairly attacked” and that the accusations against her may have been politically motivated.
“What she is accused of doing is counter to everything she believes in professionally and personally,” Mr. Strauss said.
He said Miss Robinson opposes abortion and described her as an “aggressive manager” and a talented EMS technician with a “spotless record.”
A final report on the incident by the Office of the D.C. Inspector General, which has not been made public but was obtained by The Times, substantiated the women’s claims and recommended “appropriate disciplinary action” be taken against Miss Robinson.
The inspector general’s investigators interviewed the nine members of the class and “based on a preponderance of the evidence” concluded that Miss Robinson “improperly advised EMT trainees that female EMTs could be terminated if they became pregnant during the first year of employment.”
“Robinson’s statements in this regard violated official District government policy prohibiting the termination of government women based solely on their pregnancy,” the report states.
Miss Robinson denied advising the trainees they could be terminated for becoming pregnant, but the report says Miss Robinson exhibited a “lack of candor” during her interview with investigators. It said her statements were “not credible in the face of consistent and contrary recollections of so many witnesses.”
Fire and EMS spokesman Alan Etter and Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice Margret Nedelkoff Kellems said they could not comment on Miss Robinson’s case because it was a personnel matter. Fire department sources say Miss Robinson was offered a choice between retirement and a demotion to a nonsupervisory field-medic position.
Mr. Strauss said Miss Robinson stands by her version of events and that she was not forced into retirement.
Kenneth Lyons, chairman of the American Federation of Government Employees Local 3721, which represents the city’s paramedics, said neither he nor the women involved have heard any official word about Miss Robinson’s job status.
The inspector general’s report said the case was forwarded to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, which declined to prosecute Miss Robinson, citing a lack of evidence of criminal intent.
Mr. Strauss did not rule out the possibility of filing a lawsuit on Miss Robinson’s behalf, saying he will “advise her of her options.”
“For now, she just wants to get on with her life,” Mr. Strauss said.

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