Believe it or not—-It’s True
On January 29, 2016, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, in federal district court, settled an EEO case with a federal employee for $900,000.00 (this is not a typo). In Lenkiewicz v. Housing and Urban Development, Civil Action No. 1:13-0261 (RCL) (D.D.C. 01/29/16, settlement), the issue in contention was the agency response to the complainant’s request for reasonable accommodation while she was an employee of the agency. Since this case was settled, we have no ruling to analyze. Instead, we must look to the settlement terms and the complaint, both of which are available below. Amazingly, the complaint was first filed by the complainant without legal counsel.
Here is the bottom line, agency managers and HR personnel not only failed to properly handle the request, they failed to keep the request moving and further exacerbated the situation with clearly stupid statements such as,”if you don’t like it here, you can find another job,” and “well then, you need [to] retire under disability” (reported by the complainant).
According to the Agreement, HUD agreed to pay the complainant a total of $900,000, divided as:
- $300,000 in compensatory damages based on personal physical injury and sickness
- $200,000 in attorney fees and associated costs
- $400,000 in other relief
In addition, the agency also agreed to:
- Remove all SF-50 information associated with the complainant’s notice of leave restriction
- Change the termination to a resignation
- Convert AWOL charges to leave without pay
Not every case will have this outcome of course. However, this case outcome should serve as a warning to federal managers and HR personnel. You can read our previous posts concerning Reasonable Accommodation by clicking here.
The Settlement Agreement