Guide Board Seeks Dismissal of Suit

Posted September 15, 2004 at 4:53pm

The Capitol Guide Board filed a motion Tuesday to dismiss a federal lawsuit in which a former employee alleges he faced years of retaliation after filing an Equal Employment Opportunity complaint in the late 1990s.

In documents filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the Senate Employment Counsel asserts that former employee Kevin Barry failed to establish a connection between his July 2003 termination and his earlier EEO complaint.

“[T]he extensive lapse of time — more than 6 years — between Plaintiff’s protected activity and the termination of his employment is too great to establish an inference of causation,” Senate Senior Counsel for Employment Toby Hyman argued in the motion.

If the case is not dismissed, the Capitol Guide Board is alternately seeking a summary judgement in its favor.

In court documents filed in May, Barry — who is deaf and uses a sign language interpreter — alleged that the discrimination began in February 1996, when he applied for the position of “Chief Guide” but was not selected.

Several months later, Barry was sanctioned for sexual harassment, which he asserts came in retaliation to a “promotion complaint” he filed. Barry challenged the harassment charge, which was removed from his record in 1997.

Barry, who lives in Springfield, Va., also asserts that he faced other forms of retaliation, including smaller pay increases and limited bereavement leave, as well as being excluded from updates on policy changes and tour information.

According to court documents, the Capitol Guide Board fired Barry in 2003, following an investigation by Guide Services Director Tom Stevens into Barry’s alleged “inappropriate conduct” during conversations with an American Sign Language interpreter at the Congressional Special Services Office.

“Defendant had ample reason to believe Barry had engaged in inappropriate behavior that, in its judgment, warranted the termination of his employment,” Hyman noted in his Tuesday motion.

Barry, who filed his initial complaint in February under the Congressional Accountability Act, is seeking monetary damages and reinstatement in the Guide Service, which conducts official tours of the Capitol.

The CAA ended longstanding Congressional exemptions from 11 laws covering civil rights, fair employment and discrimination. Congressional employees are allowed to file complaints in federal district court, after required counseling and mediation at the Office of Compliance, an independent legislative branch agency created by the CAA.

The Capitol Guide Service Board is represented by the Senate Employment Counsel because its employees receive their salaries through the Senate payroll.