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EEOC Judge Holds BOP Retaliated Against Employee for Prior EEO Activities

On May 1, 2002, an administrative law judge for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) ruled that the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) retaliated against an employee who had filed previous complaints with the EEOC when they terminated him for pretextual reasons.

Don Drennon-Gala, a GS-11 Step 7 Correctional Treatment Specialist was terminated from his job at FCI Oxford in Wisconsin. He had been given the position after a previous EEOC complaint was resolved in his favor.

In a pro se EEOC complaint, Drennon-Gala alleged the termination was discrimination against him because of his ethnic origins and because he was required to take time under the Family and Medical Leave Act to care for his wife, a disabled veteran with serious, recurring medical issues and in retaliation for his previous EEOC complaint.

A telephonic hearing was held after which the administrative law judge found that Drennon-Gala had not proven discrimination due to ethnic origin or association with his wife, but had proven retaliation for previous EEO activities. The judge held that the negative workplace environment issues were generated by personality clashes and were isolated incidents. The judge then held that the reason given by the BOP, unsatisfactory job performance, was countered by Drennon-Gala's performance log entries which showed at least adequate job performance. Noting that discrimination can be inferred by the falsity of the employer's explanation for the employee's discharge and the warden knew the prison's management had a negative attitude toward Drennon-Gala because of his being given the job as a result of a previous EEOC finding, the judge found that Drennon-Gala had proven a prima facie case of retaliation.

The judge ordered the BOP to pay Drennon-Gala back pay, with interest, as if he had not been discharged, and to offer to reinstate him. See: Drennon-Gala v. Ashcroft, 260-AO-9218X (EEOC 2002).

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Related legal case

Drennon-Gala v. Ashcroft