A federal appeals court in Washington has upheld the dismissal of a lawyer's suit that claims race and gender discrimination contributed to her rejected application for a federal administrative law judge slot.
Cassandra Menoken, an African American female lawyer with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, sued the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in 2003 in Washington’s federal trial court. The suit followed six years of proceedings on the EEOC administrative level, where an administrative judge issued a finding of liability against the personnel management office.
Menoken first applied for an administrative law judge position in 1993. At the time, she said in court papers she had “more than ten years of experience litigating routine and complex cases at the EEOC.” She alleged OPM, which administers the exam, used illegal scoring criteria that placed greater weight on lawyers who had been partners in firms with more than 200 attorneys.
Judge Henry Kennedy Jr. of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia dismissed her suit last year.
In the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, Menoken alleged “systemic discrimination and institutional arrogance” at the personnel management office. She said Kennedy relied on evidence that was unreliable. Menoken's opening brief is here.
Justice Department lawyers said in court papers in the D.C. Circuit that the ALJ exam did not require applicants to identify themselves by race or gender. The lawyers said Menoken failed to identify any evidence showing that OPM had a policy to seek that information from applicants. The government's brief is here.
This week, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld the dismissal of Menoken’s suit. The panel—Chief Judge David Sentelle, Judge Judith Rogers and Senior Judge Stephen Williams—said failed to produce enough evidence to allow a jury to conclude OPM’s hiring practices discriminated on the basis of race or gender. Click here for the judgment.
Menoken called the appellate ruling a disappoint and “shallow,” saying that it ignored chief issues in the dispute.
"What disappoints me most about the court's decision is the complete absence of any discussion or acknowledgment of the evidence and argument, referenced in my brief, contradicting the court's reasoning and result," Menoken said in an e-mail.