Washington, D.C. – Today, November 14, 2019, Sahar Nowrouzzadeh, a State Department employee and her attorney, Katherine Atkinson, released the following statements in response to the U.S. Department of State’s Office of the Inspector General’s report on improper personnel practices by State Department officials.
In 2017, Ms. Nowrouzzadeh was a career State Department employee on a detail to the U.S. Secretary of State’s Office of Policy Planning. Her detail was set to end in July of that year. In April 2017, her detail was abruptly cut short around the same time a misinformation campaign against Ms. Nowrouzzadeh was launched by select media outlets. After investigating that decision, the Office of the Inspector General has released its findings, which conclude that these media reports were circulated within the Office of the Secretary and that State Department officials shortly thereafter ended Ms. Nowrouzzadeh’s detail after they engaged in “significant discussion” of her perceived national origin, political views, and perceived association with former administrations, “inconsistent with Department policies prohibiting the use of non-merit factors in managing career employees.”
Sahar Nowrouzzadeh, in her first public remarks to date on this matter, said, “It is my hope that the Inspector General’s findings pertaining to my case help prompt action that will guard against any further such misconduct by members of this or any future administration. For nearly 15 years, I’ve been proud to serve our country, across Republican and Democratic administrations. I continue to strongly encourage Americans of all backgrounds, including those of Iranian heritage, to consider public service to our nation and to not be discouraged by these findings. I also think I speak for many within what President Harry S. Truman during a critical time in U.S. history called “the most loyal body of civil servants in the whole world” in saying that we should not fear, but rather value rigorous debate among colleagues with deep experience when formulating U.S. policy on matters critical to our national security. It is one of the ways we faithfully discharge our duties, as per our oaths and loyalty to the U.S. constitution, above all else.”
Katherine Atkinson represented Ms. Nowrouzzadeh in her employment case against the State Department. Ms. Atkinson said, “Federal employees like Sahar Nowrouzzadeh are one of our country’s greatest resources. Since the passage of The Pendleton Act in 1883, Americans have recognized the value of an independent civil service in which federal jobs are awarded based on merit rather than a “spoils system.” Ms. Nowrouzzadeh began her career within the U.S. government in 2005, serving Republican and Democratic administrations as a career civil servant during her nearly 15 consecutive years of public service. The OIG notes that in addition to targeting Ms. Nowrouzzadeh for her supposed political beliefs, Trump Administration officials considered a false claim that she was born in Iran when deciding to end her detail. Ms. Nowrouzzadeh was born and raised in Connecticut. But regardless, making employment decisions based on real or perceived national origin is against the law. We are all best served when employers reward knowledge and skill. Our government is less effective when staffing decisions are subject to political whims or unlawful discrimination.”