Kerrie Riggs and Cathy Harris of Kator, Parks, Weiser & Harris, PLLC proudly represented Dr. Patricia Kinne, a lesbian psychiatrist at the VA, in her complaints before the U.S. Office of Special Counsel and the EEOC. The case was recently settled with the help of the Office of Special Counsel, with Dr. Kinne receiving essentially full relief, including compensatory damages and attorneys fees. Dr. Kinne was discriminated against when she was threatened with removal after patients complained that she had disclosed she was a lesbian or referred to her wife. The patients cited Dr. Kinne’s sexual orientation as a basis for discontinuing their treatment with her. VA management at the Louisville VA Medical Center (VAMC) in Kentucky stated that Dr. Kinne’s disclosure of “personal information” was harmful to the doctor-patient relationship and warned she might be terminated. OSC investigated and found that while there were several hundred change-of-provider requests from patients against psychiatrists during the relevant time period, only two requests – the ones related to Dr. Kinne’s sexual orientation– were treated as potential corrective or disciplinary issues. In their OSC interviews, VA management officials were unable to distinguish their treatment of Dr. Kinne’s conduct from others who had received complaints, and provided inconsistent reasoning to support their actions. Dr. Kinne is a well-regarded psychiatrist with no other reported performance or conduct issues, and was complimented by the VA in 2013 for having relatively few patient complaints. The case settled just before an EEOC hearing on Dr. Kinne’s discrimination claims.
See OSC’s Press Release about the case by clicking here.
See Government Executive coverage of the case by clicking here.
Other coverage on settlement available by clicking here.
The EEOC has confirmed the finding of class-wide discrimination against female DEA special agents. The process for individual awards to Class Members has begun, and Claim Forms should be submitted immediately. For more information about the case, please click here.
Cathy Harris was interviewed by ABC This Week about sexual assaults on college campuses. Ms. Harris has fought to bring attention to this issue, and to fight for victims’ rights, for decades.
Click here to see the ABC This Week segment on college sexual assaults.
If you have been the victim of a sexual assault at college or at work, click here to contact KPWH to discuss your legal options.
The Supreme Court today ruled in United States v. Windsor that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional. Kator, Parks & Weiser, PLLC is proud to be part of the legal effort that helped overturn DOMA. KPW attorneys Cathy Harris and Andrea Goplerud have assisted GLAD (Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders) for several years in the federal-sector employment law aspects at the MSPB and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in DOMA litigation. The Court’s decision results in same-sex federal employees being eligible for spousal benefits that had been denied under DOMA. For information about how you can secure these and other benefits now available, please visit http://www.glad.org/uploads/docs/publications/post-doma-fact-sheets/post-doma-federal-employees-spouses.pdf. If you have questions, or if you feel that you have faced any discrimination or harassment due to your applications for same-sex partner benefits, you can contact KPW for a free consultation to discussion your legal options.
A June 2013 order from the EEOC found that the Drug Enforcement Administration engaged in class-wide discrimination against female DEA Special Agents. The EEOC ordered that separate hearings be conducted to determine the extent of monetary damages due to class members, damages that are expected to be in the tens of millions of dollars. KPW has proudly represented the class of female DEA Special Agents for decades. To learn more about the case, click here.
Every so often, scandals at federal agencies whip through the news cycle. Frequently, long time federal employees can be improperly targeted in the subsequent attempts to correct perceived problems and clean house. And, to be sure, there may be instances where disciplinary action is appropriate. But due process rights must be followed and any penalty imposed should be fair and equitable. If you are a federal employee facing a proposed disciplinary action, or think you might be facing a proposed disciplinary action in the near future, please contact KPW at (202) 898-4800 for a free initial consultation. Our Washington, DC based firm has been representing federal employees for more than 20 years in proposed disciplinary actions and in appeals of imposed disciplinary actions to the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board. Jessica Parks serves as the Chair of KPW’s MSPB practice section. Ms. Parks served as an Administrative Judge with the MSPB’s Atlanta Regional Office. President George H.W. Bush appointed Ms. Parks to serve as one of the three Board Members of the MSPB, and her appointment was confirmed by the U.S. Senate. President Bill Clinton elevated Ms. Parks to the position of Vice Chair of the MSPB. While at the MSPB, Ms. Parks decided hundreds of cases, establishing important principles related to protecting employees’ due process rights, guaranteeing fair consideration of adverse actions, and enforcing reasonable and just levels of penalties. Read more about our firm’s MSPB practice here.
The 2013 Roster of DC Area SuperLawyers includes KPW Attorneys Michael Kator and Cathy Harris. KPW Attorney Jeremy Wright was also named as a DC Area SuperLawyer Rising Star. KPW congratulates its Members on their recognition as 2013 DC SuperLawyers.
Kator, Parks & Weiser, PLLC is proud to be part of the legal effort to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). KPW attorneys Cathy Harris and Andrea Goplerud have assisted GLAD (Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders) for several years in the federal-sector employment law aspects at the MSPB and the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit associated with GLAD’s landmark case, Gill v. OPM. Gill is being held pending the Supreme Court’s ruling in Windsor. For more information about the case, and DOMA, please visit http://www.glad.org/doma.
KPW Co-Manager Jessica Parks was contacted by The Washington Post to provide expert perspective on possible federal employee furloughs. In an article published February 27, 2013, The Washington Post quoted Ms. Parks regarding possible legal issues that could arise if federal employees are furloughed due to sequestration. In the article, “Sequester a nightmare for appeals agency,” The Washington Post wrote, “In terms of precedent, furlough cases are ‘largely unexplored territory,’ said Jessica Parks, a former MSPB vice chairman who is now with Kator, Parks & Weiser. She said that many earlier cases involved special rules applying to one small group of employees, administrative law judges.”
Ms. Parks discussed possible legal challenges that may be available to federal employees subject to a furlough order: “‘It comes down to: Are there going to be fairness issues? And that depends on how each agency handles it,’ Parks said. …. ‘While that may sound simple, we see in our practice that agencies often don’t follow procedures correctly,’ Parks said. ‘Sometimes they make mistakes. If that happened in a particular case, it could result in the reversal of an action and then back pay and other relief.'”
If you have questions about your possible legal rights related to a furlough order, contact KPW now (at 202-898-4800) to discuss your legal options.
The Federal Times reports that a December 2012 order issued by the EEOC could result in the Social Security Administration owing “millions of dollars in back pay to black male employees at its Baltimore headquarters.” The EEOC order was issued after the class alleged that SSA violated the terms of a settlement agreement reached in a class action filed in 1998. KPW attorneys have proudly represented the class of African American male employees at SSA Headquarters for decades.
To learn more about the SSA class action, click here.
To see the Federal Times report, click here.