Skip navigation
× You have 2 more free articles available this month. Subscribe today.

Wrongfully Terminated BOP Employee Entitled to Attorney Fees and Damages

David Patrick McDonald was a Cook Supervisor at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, New York when he discovered that a supervisor was sexually harassing a female employee. He reported this to two supervisors and began suffering workplace retaliation that led to his resignation in 1996.

McDonald filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which was resolved in his favor in 2000. An administrative judge found retaliation and ordered reinstatement at a new facility as well as $168,000 in back pay. $28,781 in attorney’s fee was also awarded. The judge noted that McDonald might be entitled to compensatory damages, but had not requested them or submitted any evidence on them so such damages were not awarded.

The matter was referred to the Department of Justice's Complaint Adjudication Office for final action. That office determined that McDonald could still request additional attorney fees and compensatory damages.

In 2001, McDonald submitted a request for these damages. He asked for $55,064 in reimbursement for excessive tax liability because the back pay came in a lump sum in a single year instead of spread out over the years he would have been employed, $5,000 for loss of household goods when he was unable to pay rent and was evicted, $10,000 for loss of his automobile when he was unable to pay the car note, $120,000 in compensation for the indignity, pain and suffering of wrongful termination, $25,000 to employ a credit counselor to straighten out his credit which was damaged by his wrongful termination, and $35,000 in compensation for not being at the pay level he would have been at had he remained employed. His attorney, James Richardson, requested $175 per hour for 193.1 hours along with costs of $361.66.

Noting the lack of documentary evidence to support the request, in 2002 the office decided to award McDonald $25,000 for non-pecuniary wrongful termination damages and $175 per hour for 150 hours for plaintiff’s attorney ($26,250). Due to the speculative nature of the cost estimate on the lost furnishings, the credit counselor, and the career advancement, the office denied those requests. Noting a lack of actual evidence as to the cost of the additional tax liability and alleged car loan default (which McDonald's father had paid in the interim), the office required McDonald to provide proper documentation and the parties to agree upon a reasonable sum for compensation. The request for costs was denied. See: McDonald v. Federal Bureau of Prisons, DOJ No. 1873-1219 (DOJ Final Decision dated October 4, 2002).

As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.

Subscribe today

Already a subscriber? Login

Related legal case

McDonald v. Federal Bureau of Prisons