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Discrimination suit filed by former D.C. employee is dismissed

A former social worker for D.C.'s Child and Family Services Agency who filed an age discrimination lawsuit against Mayor Adrian Fenty for forcing her to carry an unbearable workload had her suit dismissed earlier this week. The 2009 suit claimed that the agency's Child Protective Services Unit forced its older employees to carry burdensome caseloads, which led to the plaintiff's resignation from her position.

The 58-year-old woman who filed the suit said that the agency nearly tripled her caseload after seven caseworkers were fired for failing to follow up on reports of child abuse and neglect. The former employee alleges that she warned her supervisors that the increased caseload placed the children in her care at risk.

In August 2008, a child under the former employee's care died after accidentally swallowing her father's prescription medication. Following that incident, the agency put the employee on administrative leave. During the review of that case, the employee resigned, as she felt she would soon be fired.

The judge in charge of the case granted the city's motion to dismiss the case on the grounds that the plaintiff failed to state a claim. The judge also shot down the plaintiff's claims that her resignation gave rise to due process and equal protection violations.

The judge noted that the allegations of age discrimination were inadequate to move the case forward. The judge noted that even if the plaintiff's allegations established a disparate impact on older workers, they failed to show that the agency had a discriminatory purpose in assigning more cases to older caseworkers, since they could have been another plausible explanation, such as experience and work quality.

Source: Courthouse News Service, "Social Worker Can't Sue for Age Discrimination," Ryan Abbot, 8 June 2011.

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