- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 1, 2003

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has been ordered to reinstate a Hispanic employee it discriminated against and must also pay her $165,000 in damages, legal fees and other relief, including medical expenses.
"[The civil rights commission] is found to have discriminated on the basis of reprisal when it retaliated against an individual by assigning her less complex duties," said the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in its written rejection of the civil rights commission's final appeal last month.
Emma Monroig, a former solicitor with the civil rights commission, said she was demoted after initiating an informal complaint about procedures there.
"It is ironic that this is a place that is charged with enforcing civil rights," said Edward H. Passman, Miss Monroig's attorney. "This case proves that even civil rights agencies are not immune from discrimination against their employees."
Les Jin, staff director for the civil rights commission, declined to comment on the case, which was filed with the EEOC in 1994.
Miss Monroig accused management at the civil rights commission of sabotaging her career by demoting her, parceling out her duties and removing her from her job after a poor performance review. A previous review had deemed her "fully successful."
Miss Monroig, 59, in her original complaint, also said that she was discriminated against because she is Hispanic. Those charges were never proven.
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 civil rights 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 position Miss Monroig once occupied was eliminated in 1998 by the civil rights commission. In its appeal, the commission said that reinstating the position would have a "substantial impact on policies, practices and operations."
Its assertion was rejected by the EEOC, and Miss Monroig, who could not be reached for comment, must be reinstated "into a substantially equivalent position" within 30 days.
The commission must also restore 120 hours of sick leave to Miss Monroig, as well as "take corrective, curative and preventative action to ensure that reprisal discrimination does not recur."
In a letter to The Washington Times in July, Mr. Jin said Miss Berry did not play a role in the case and said that "the ultimate decision maker and head of the [civil rights commission] for management and personnel matters is the staff director."
The EEOC's decision also requires the civil rights commission to post a notice to its employees of the decision.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is a five-member panel. Two of those seats are vacant. It is headed by Bush appointee Cari M. Dominguez.

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