Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Religious Freedom Agency Loses Attempt To Dismiss Former Employee's Discrimination Suit

In Ghori-Ahmad v. U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, (D DC, Sept. 17, 2013), the DC federal district court refused to dismiss claims of religious and national origin discrimination, and of retaliation, bought by a former employee of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.  Ghori-Ahmad, a lawyer and expert on South Asian affairs, is a Muslim of Indian descent who in 2009 was originally offered a full-time job with USCIRF, but then had the offer rescinded and ended up with only a 90-day position that the agency refused to extend. Her lawsuit claims that her original offer was withdrawn, and her temporary position was not extended, because of anti-Muslim bias of two of the USCIRF commissioners. (See prior posting.)  The court first rejected USCIRF's claim that as a matter of law Ghori-Ahmad was an independent contractor with the agency, not an employee covered by the anti-discrimination provisions of the Congressional Accountability Act when her position was not extended. It held that factual issues remain as to her status.  The court also rejected USCIRF's claim that no materially adverse action had been taken against Ghori-Ahmad. The court, however, did dismiss plaintiff's detrimental reliance claim, refusing to exercise supplemental jurisdiction to hear it.