Architect of Capitol Settles Sex-Discrimination Lawsuit

Posted June 2, 2004 at 6:49pm

The Architect of the Capitol has agreed to pay a $56,500 settlement to a female laborer who had accused the legislative branch agency of sex discrimination when it refused to hire her in 1999.

U.S. District Court Judge Gladys Kessler dismissed the lawsuit Wednesday, several days after both parties agreed to the settlement.

According to court documents, Prince Frederick, Md.-resident Wendy Lee Fuller had sought $8,960 in back pay and other benefits, as well as more than $27,000 in attorney’s fees and court costs.

As is typical in settlement agreements, the contract does not require the Architect’s office to admit any violation of Fuller’s rights or any laws. It is considered a “judgement solely for the purposes of compromising disputed claims,” the settlement states.

“I think both parties are happy,” said Charles Bailey, Fuller’s attorney. He added that his client considers the settlement “a moral victory.”

An AOC spokeswoman said the agency does not comment on personnel issues.

According to court documents, AOC officials selected Fuller for a laborer position in the Construction Management Division in 1999 but then declined to hire her, citing the agency’s anti-nepotism policy.

“Specifically, hiring Plaintiff would have violated Defendant’s anti-nepotism policy which generally prohibits an employee from working in the same organization element as a close relative unless the two are either both supervisors or both non-supervisors,” attorneys representing the AOC wrote in a March 22 pre-trial statement.

Fuller’s husband, Michael Fuller, is a supervisor in the Construction Management Division.

In court documents, the Architect’s office said it had offered Michael Fuller the option of stepping down from his position, asserting “the difference in hourly wage … would have been negligible,” or alternately, to hire Wendy Fuller into its Custodial Division.

While neither party disputes the options put forth by the Architect’s office — the Fullers declined both offers — Wendy Fuller asserts that the anti-nepotism policy is applied unfairly to female employees.

“There are instances where nepotism is tolerated within the AOC for other employees outside of [Fuller’s] protected class, e.g., female,” Fuller’s initial complaint, filed in February 2000, states.