A federal appeals court in Washington today upheld a $100,000 discrimination award for a man who alleged the FBI refused to hire him because he has diabetes.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit said the man, Jeffrey Kapche, suffered from a disability. The appeals court unanimously upheld a jury's verdict that the FBI discriminated against Kapche in rejecting his application.
The appeals court, however, upheld a lower judge’s refusal to give Kapche any other relief, including back-pay and employment as a special agent.
Kapche applied for an FBI special agent position in February 2002. Two years later, the bureau offered him a conditional offer pending the completion of a medical exam.
The FBI took back that offer in 2005, saying that Kapche would be unable to perform certain duties as an agent. The bureau later reconsidered, then rejected for a second time, Kapche’s application.
The agency cited an alleged lack of candor stemming from his denial that he’d ever been disciplined as a law enforcement officer. Kapche sued the bureau in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in 2007. A jury awarded Kapche $100,000 in compensatory damages in 2009.
The Justice Department said Kapche was not hired as a special agent for non-discriminatory reasons.
DOJ lawyers argued in the appeals court that Kapche omitted the fact he was disciplined—two weeks’ suspension—for unauthorized use of gasoline from a Texas sheriff’s office pump. (Kapche was a deputy sheriff with the Fort Bend Sheriff’s Office before applying to the FBI.)
Kapche told the FBI in a follow-up interview that he did not immediately recall the incident. He said he stocked up in preparation for an imminent hurricane. FBI officials noted inconsistent explanations about the use of the gasoline.
A lawyer for Kapche, John Griffin Jr. of Marek, Griffin & Knaupp, in Victoria, Texas, was not immediately reached for comment this afternoon.