News from the Courts: On July 10, 2017, the District of Columbia Office of Human Rights (OHR) issued its Final Order in Massengale v. D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services, OHR Docket No: 14-360-DC(CN). OHR reversed Ms. Massengale’s 2014 termination and ordered her reinstated with back pay.
Ms. Massengale had filed a sexual harassment complaint in May 2013 with OHR. A senior manager at the Agency learned of Ms. Massengale’s EEO complaint, and was heard to have said “Nobody goes against me and wins.” After a mediation at OHR in her pending complaint, Agency management breached mediation confidentiality and ordered an investigation into Ms. Massengale based on statements which Ms. Massengale allegedly made at the OHR mediation. The Agency issued its investigative report nearly simultaneously with OHR’s issuance of its initial determination on Ms. Massengale’s May 2013 complaint. The Agency fired Ms. Massengale in May 2014 and she filed a retaliation complaint at OHR citing violations of the D.C. Human Rights Act in August 2014. In April 2015, OHR issued a probable cause finding, holding that the Agency’s termination of Ms. Massengale was in reprisal for her 2013 OHR complaint. Under District of Columbia regulation, findings of probable cause are subject to review to determine if the probable cause determination is appropriate. On February 22, 2017, Administrative Law Judge J. P. Howard issued a Proposed Decision and Order in which he found that the Agency retaliated against Ms. Massengale when it terminated her employment in May 2014. OHR reviewed ALJ Howard’s proposed decision, and on July 11, 2017 issued the Final Order, holding that Ms. Massengale was retaliated against when the Agency terminated her employment. OHR ordered that Ms. Massengale be reappointed to her former position with back pay and all retroactive benefits she would have received or accrued had she not been terminated in 2014.
Ms. Massengale was represented by Passman & Kaplan Founding Principal Joseph V. Kaplan and Passman & Kaplan Senior Counsel Adria S. Zeldin.