D.C. District Court Holds French Embassy Not Immune

In a decision issued by United States District Court Judge James E. Boasberg (D.D.C.), the court clarified the scope of activities and the types of employees that fall outside of the virtual blanket immunity foreign embassies enjoy under the Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act (FSIA), finding that Plaintiff, Saima Ashraf-Hassan, may proceed in her employment discrimination case against the French Embassy.
 
Judge Boasberg found that the employment contract between Ashraf-Hassan and the Embassy relies on local (U.S.) law for its application, thereby rendering U.S. law as controlling in any choice of law analysis and subjecting the French Embassy to suit in the U.S. under the waiver and commercial activity exceptions of the FSIA.  
 
Ari Wilkenfeld, of the Wilkenfeld Law Group, said: “This is a great decision not only for Ms. Ashraf-Hassan but also for the scores of other embassy employees who suffer from blatant acts of discrimination and employment abuse here in our capitol city, and who have long had no remedy under U.S. law.  This will not provide all such embassy employees with causes of actions, but the rules of the game have been greatly clarified.”
 
Wilkenfeld is co-counseling the case with Zach Wright of the Law Offices of Gary M. Gilbert and Associates, and Rosalind Herendeen who is a co-founder of The Wilkenfeld Law Group.

Documents attached to this post:
Judge Boasberg's Memorandum Opinion Denying Defendant's Motion to Dismiss

GW Security Officer Leaves Force after Harassment

WLG is proud to represent Linda Queen, a former security officer at The George Washington University, who has been subjected to severe sexual harassment and retaliation. This brave woman's narrative of the obstacles she faced while employed at the University is featured in this article appearing in The Hatchet, the school's newspaper. Unfortunately, GWU consistently refuses to deal with this troubling matter in a responsible manner. We are looking forward to helping Ms. Queen vindicate her civil rights and protect herself, as well as the women who will follow her in this job, from harassment, retaliation, and intimidation.

Read the full story here.

WLG Files Complaint in District Court on Behalf of DC Firefighter/Paramedic

This morning the Wilkenfeld Law Group filed a complaint on behalf of Gene Ryan, a Firefighter/Paramedic with the DC Fire Department, in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia under the District of Columbia's Whistleblower Protection Act and the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. You can view a copy of the complaint as a PDF.

At 2:00 pm today, Mr. Ryan will testify before the DC City Council at the Judiciary and Public Safety Hearing on UOC, FEMS, and MPD. This Hearing has been called to address widespread problems within the DC Fire and EMS Department that have resulted in the recent deaths of Medric Cecil Mills Jr., Jose Santos Ruiz Perez, and others yet unnamed. You can view a PDF of the press release regarding Mr. Ryan’s Complaint and anticipated testimony.

Follow these links to view NBC4’s exclusive interview with Mr. Ryan regarding the mishandling of narcoticswithin the Department and a second interview in which Mr. Ryan reveals how a Departmental failure in internal communications likely resulted in the death of a 3 month old baby.

Gene Ryan has worked in the field of Emergency Medical Services for almost 20 years, and for the last 4 years he has served as a Firefighter/Paramedic with the Washington DC Fire and EMS Department. In January 2012, DC Fire Chief Ellerbe appointed Mr. Ryan to serve as the DC FEMS Oversight Officer and charged him with assessing the Department’s operations and ability to provide pre-hospital medical care and to compare it to nationally accepted standards. In fulfilling these duties, Mr. Ryan uncovered massive and systemic waste, fraud, and negligence within the Department on matters ranging from insufficient manpower, false credentialing of EMS workers' qualifications, financial mismanagement that was costing the City over $10 million per year in wasted resources, and a narcotics controlled medication program that was inadequate, prone to abuse, and in contravention of Federal law. Mr. Ryan repeatedly raised these concerns and others to DC Fire Chief Ellerbe and expressed his fear that these problems could affect the administration of patient care in the field and result in the unnecessary loss of life. Chief Ellerbe ignored the issues Mr. Ryan raised, and, after Mr. Ryan began to speak openly about the problems to other individuals within the Department, Chief Ellerbe told him to stop making public statements. Twelve days later Chief Ellerbe removed Mr. Ryan from the position of Oversight Officer and has yet to fill the position with anyone else. In the months following his removal from the EMS Oversight Officer position, Mr. Ryan continued to unearth ongoing failures, mismanagement, and negligence within the Department. As he had previously, Mr. Ryan reported his findings to DC FEMS leadership, only to be met with resistance and retaliation. The Department and Chief Ellerbe responded by subjected Mr. Ryan to a series of baseless charges and investigations, threats to his person, and other forms of adverse employment actions. Notwithstanding, Mr. Ryan, dedicated to effectuating significant and real change within the Department, continues to disclose these matters of great public concern.

Documents attached to this post:
Gene Ryan v. District of Columbia et al. - Complaint
Press Release regarding Gene Ryan's 2.24.2014 testimony