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Carleen L. v. Department of Veterans Affairs

119 LRP 11137, EEOC OFO Appeal No. 2019000646 (OFO 2019)

Our client worked for the Department of Veterans Affairs as a Research Assistant. She reported to a doctor who had worked at the agency for decades. Beginning in 2015, the doctor began sexually assaulting our client. He also subjected two other Research Assistants to the same treatment. Our client was too afraid to report the sexual harassment out of fear of retaliation. But in 2019, inspired by the #MeToo movement, our client and her colleagues gained the courage to report the doctor to VA management.

Following their report of sexual harassment, management told them to think about whether they really wanted to report the doctor and asked them to wait two weeks while the Medical Director was on vacation. After our client filed a complaint, the harasser voluntarily resigned and the agency dismissed her EEO claim as untimely.

We filed an appeal to the Office of Federal Operations (OFO) and argued that the sexual harassment claims were timely. The OFO agreed and required the agency to investigate. Following the investigation, we requested a Final Agency Decision (FAD), which found in our client’s favor. The FAD awarded our client $125,000 in damages for pain and suffering connected to the sexual harassment. An award on attorney’s fees is pending.

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