Fed Government Ordered to Reinstate Prosecutor in Harassment Case

January 5, 2007 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - A Huntsville, Alabama, attorney fired in 2002 as a federal prosecutor has won reinstatement to her former job as well as about $4.4 million in compensation.

The Huntsville Times reported that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) ordered the reinstatement of Deirdra Brown-Fleming, saying the firing was carried out to punish Brown-Fleming for claiming she had been racially and sexually harassed while working in the Huntsville US Attorney’s Office.

The EEOC also ordered the US Justice Department to reinstate to his former position Brown-Fleming’s former supervisor, Victor Conrad, according to the news report. Conrad claimed he was demoted for reporting the situation to his superiors and supporting Brown-Fleming. The EEOC said Conrad should receive back pay and be reinstated as head of the Huntsville office.

Brown-Fleming alleged a paralegal sabotaged her court briefs in 1998 and that the same paralegal, several office staff members and federal law enforcement agents referred to Brown-Fleming using a racially derogatory term. An administrative assistant stated that the racially derogatory term became Brown-Fleming’s office nickname.

The EEOC concluded that US Attorney Alice Martin had acted on recommendations of supervisors who might have been tainted by the environment in the office hostile to Brown-Fleming when Martin took over after former US Attorney Doug Jones stepped down in 2001.

According to EEOC documents, Jones held a meeting with his employees in August 1998 to admonish the alleged discriminatory behavior. Conrad reprimanded the paralegal in January 1999, saying her behavior was inappropriate and would not be tolerated, according to the documents.

Jones told the newspaper Conrad’s removal as head of the Huntsville office was part of a reorganization plan. Conrad was needed to prosecute a large caseload of white-collar crimes, Jones said.

Brown-Fleming filed the complaint with the EEOC in 2002. Hired in 1998, she was the first black woman to serve as a federal prosecutor in the Huntsville branch of the US Attorney’s Office.