Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Project

Matthew K. Handley Project Director  
Dennis Corkery Senior Staff Attorney  
Samantha Weaver Paralegal  

Established in 1971 as the Committee’s first project, the Equal Employment Opportunity (“EEO”) Project challenges all forms of illegal discrimination in the workplace. Since its inception, the Project has been on the forefront of upholding and expanding federal, state, and local EEO laws and has filed hundreds of cases and more than 60 class actions.  The EEO Project’s work counseling and representing members of protected classes has helped thousands of area workers to attain justice and receive monetary and injunctive relief.

One of the Project’s first campaigns was on behalf of African Americans seeking employment during the construction of the D.C. Metro system, just as Congress was poised to enact major new legislation providing federal, state, and local workers with their first meaningful protections against employment discrimination.  Working with a coalition of community organizations, the Committee initiated an extensive litigation campaign challenging denials of training and job referrals by unions and contractors throughout the region.  The newly created EEO Project won precedent-setting victories in several major lawsuits, opened significant employment opportunities for African Americans and laid the groundwork for dozens of major cases on behalf of federal workers.

Project Activities

The Project currently has an active docket of cases pending in federal and state courts in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia.  Current clients have claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and other federal and state laws, involving sexual harassment, racial harassment, racially discriminatory non-promotion and other employment actions, pregnancy discrimination, disability discrimination, national origin discrimination and retaliation.  The Project advocates on behalf of private sector and federal and other government sector employees, and in courts, administrative tribunals and alternative dispute resolution proceedings.  Over the years, the Project’s work has expanded into new and emerging areas, including cases alleging violations of the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act and local laws protecting people with criminal records.

In addition to litigating its ongoing docket of cases, the Project receives between 500 and 1,000 requests for legal assistance each year, each of which Project staff reviews and investigates in order to provide advice, representation and/or referrals to the individuals seeking assistance.  The Project also uses its employment law expertise to submit amicus curiae (friend of the court) briefs and to conduct trainings and outreach on workers’ rights and employment discrimination litigation.

With the assistance of law firms and members of the private bar working pro bono, the Project has achieved landmark precedents and monetary verdicts, and has increased employment and economic opportunities for thousands of people of color, women, people with disabilities, and members of other protected groups.

Hopson, et al. v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore, et al.

Co-counseling with Weil, Gotshal & Manges, the Committee obtained a settlement worth $4.5 million on behalf of fifteen current and former African American Baltimore City police officers alleging a pattern and practice of racially discriminatory discipline and retaliation within the Baltimore City Police Department (BPD).

The settlement requires the BPD to, among other actions, retain a special consultant who will assist the Department in developing remedial policies designed to eliminate race discrimination within its internal disciplinary system and to improve the BPD’s response to internal complaints of discrimination and retaliation.

Liem Truong v. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority

In partnership with WilmerHale, the Committee represented Liem Truong, a Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) employee who was fired while on leave to care for his infant son, in violation of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which prevents employers from discharging employees for taking leave in such situations.

In early 2009, the Committee and WilmerHale negotiated a settlement that returned Mr. Truong to his job with a pay increase, and provided him with full back pay and damages totaling $80,000.

Neal, et al. v. D.C. Department of Corrections

In the Neal class action, the Committee achieved an unprecedented $8 million settlement on behalf of female corrections officers after a jury found that they suffered a pattern and practice of sexually harassing retaliatory conduct on behalf of male employees of the DC Department of Corrections.

The consent decree required, among other things, the establishment of a Special Inspector to investigate sexual harassment and retaliation complaints at the Department as well as an ombudsman to respond to similar employee complaints. Piper Marbury Rudnick & Wolfe served as class co-counsel on the case.

McCoy v. Peake Printers, Inc.

The Committee, co-counseling with the law firm of Miller and Chevalier, obtained a jury award of $2.4 million in compensatory and punitive damages for an African American press operator on his claims of race discrimination, retaliation and a hostile work environment. This was one of the highest monetary awards for an individual discrimination case within the jurisdiction. While Peake Printers’ appeal was pending, the Committee successfully settled Mr. McCoy’s claims for over $2 million, as well as attorneys’ fees and various forms of injunctive relief.

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