As the federal workforce endures a two-year freeze on basic pay rates and faces a possible increase in pension payments and as new employees will have to contribute more to their retirement program, Barbara Murchison has reason to smile.
A decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit could finally end her employment discrimination case against the Social Security Administration (SSA), which began 11 years ago. ...
As we reported in January, Murchison was reassigned from her team leader position at Social Security’s main office in Woodlawn, Md., in 2001. The agency conceded that she had been discriminated against, for reasons of race, age and sex, among others, after a ruling by an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) administrative judge. SSA agreed to give Murchison her gig back but did not.
Social Security, however, erroneously said it had restored Murchison to her position, and the EEOC accepted that false assurance.
This left Murchison in limbo. She fought to get her job back even after the District Court ruled against her at least in part because the EEOC did not issue a formal finding that the SSA had not followed the EEOC’s order to restore Murchison. She took it to the Court of Appeals, whose opinion really makes the Social Security Administration look bad.
The opinion said the lower court’s decision and the EEOC’s acceptance of Social Security assurances were based on “what can only be deemed a deceptive and false assertion of compliance made by the SSA.” ...
In January, an SSA statement said that “we deny all of the allegations made by Ms. Murchison about the agency, and we expect to prevail” in the case.
They got that wrong, on both counts.