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Plaintiff: Thomas M. Francis Jr.
Defendant: D.C. government, Office of Property Management
Damages Sought: Reinstatement order, back pay, unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, and attorneys’ fees
Complaint: Francis, who is white, was hired in October 1999 to head up the city’s Protective Services Department, which is part of the Office of Property Management and charged with securing city government facilities. Francis, who had been hired out of a security-executive job with Mobil Oil, dove right in, developing a five-year reform plan whose changes remain to this day. He also oversaw numerous security initiatives after 9/11—work that led to uniformly favorable performance reviews and hefty raises. Then a new boss hit OPM: Marceline Alexander, who is black. In July 2003, Francis was summoned by Alexander, who fired him on the spot, stripping him of his badge and credentials and ordered him directly out of the OPM offices. She gave no reason for the firing, and never did, the complaint alleges. The chief’s position was given to a black man, Plez Jenkins, who “was unqualified for the job”—such that the job’s pay grade had to be reduced to accommodate him, according to the complaint. Francis alleges that Alexander and her boss, Deputy Mayor for Operations Herbert Tillery, made a pattern of firing white employees and replacing them with African-Americans. Since leaving the D.C. government, Francis has made several contacts regarding new security-related jobs, but “all leads have ended when the potential employer contacted the Defendants for references.” Francis alleges racial discrimination and wants his old job back, plus damages.
Quality of Representation: Absolutely top-notch. Suit Yourself reads a lot of half-baked job-discrimination claims filed against the D.C. government. This is not one of them. Attorneys Woodley B. Osborne and Robert C. Seldon have filed an expertly written and well-documented complaint alleging violations of federal and District civil-rights laws.
Summary Judgment: At least come up with a reason. When you head up a government agency, the urge to put your own people in important slots has got to be strong. But civil-service laws say you can’t just go around firing folks willy-nilly. And if you’re firing all whites and replacing them with blacks, as Francis alleges—well, you’ve got yourself the makings of a juicy civil-rights claim. So your bad, Ms. Alexander, for not giving this guy even the semblance of a rationale for shitcanning him. Judgment for plaintiff.