FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, September 12, 2022
JD Howlette Law Files Unlawful Discrimination Lawsuit Against United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
September 12, 2022 - JD Howlette Law announced today that it has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit in the Southern District of Florida on behalf of Immigration Services Officer Charlie Batista, alleging that managers and supervisors at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Miami Field Office unlawfully targeted Officer Batista with malicious acts of intimidation, harassment, humiliation, discrimination, and retaliation based on his sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability. According to the amended complaint, Defendants’ unlawful workplace conduct subjected Officer Batista to a hostile and toxic work environment at the USCIS Miami Field Office, which he was forced to suffer through for more than a year despite his several pleas for help. The hostile work environment significantly impacted Officer Batista’s physical and mental health, resulting in multiple hospitalizations, frequent medical treatment, and regular therapy sessions to cope with the high levels of workplace stress, anxiety, and trauma.
Officer Batista is a long-time employee of USCIS, the federal agency under the United States Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) charged with administering the nation’s naturalization and immigration system. Officer Batista openly identifies in the workplace as a member of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, plus community (“LGBTQ+”), and he lives with a known disability, namely a chronic anxiety disorder that results in unpredictable onset of panic attacks. Since joining USCIS in 2008, Officer Batista has been regarded as a “model employee” by supervisors and colleagues, underscored by his numerous professional accolades, including performance-related awards, outstanding or excellent job performance reviews, and countless scores of positive reviews from customers and their representatives. USCIS is required to promote a safe environment for all employees and the visiting public, and to work with employees to maintain a work environment that is free from violence, harassment, intimidation, and other disruptive behavior. But the USCIS Miami Field Office must have missed that memo.
Officer Batista’s workplace troubles began shortly after being assigned to the Office of Adjudications Section at the USCIS Miami Field Office. The amended complaint alleges that, despite Officer Batista’s many professional achievements and high job performance reviews, Defendants intentionally and maliciously targeted him with acts of intimidation, harassment, humiliation, discrimination, and retaliation that were motivated—at least in part—by Batista’s sexual orientation, gender identity, and/or disability. Defendants’ conduct consisted of, among other things: (a) forcing Officer Batista to violate protocols impacting national security concerns; (b) subjecting Officer Batista to persistent acts of ridicule, intimidation, and harassment on the basis of his disability; (c) intentionally denying Officer Batista’s requests for additional training; (d) maliciously delaying Officer Batista’s career ladder promotion; (e) staging a security infraction to undermine Officer Batista’s performance reviews; (f) falsifying reports that Officer Batista engaged in unprofessional conduct during immigration interviews; (g) harassing Officer Batista with constant work product deficiency reports; (h) ignoring Officer Batista’s request for workplace resources in connection with his intent to transition genders; (i) denying Officer Batista’s requests for reasonable accommodations based on his disability; and (j) forcing Officer Batista to disregard instructions given to him by a medical professional.
According to the amended complaint, Defendants’ unlawful workplace actions violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
“Discrimination, retaliation, or misconduct of any kind on the basis of one’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability cannot be tolerated in the workplace, especially the federal workplace," says Jordan D. Howlette, Managing Attorney of JD Howlette Law. "Supervisors and managers at all federal agencies have an affirmative duty and obligation to ensure that their workplaces remain free from unlawful discrimination, and it is imperative that all workers are afforded an equal opportunity to achieve their fullest potential. When I left the United States Department of Justice, I made a promise that my law firm would vigorously pursue justice for those workers who had been harmed by unlawful conduct occurring within the workplace. What happened to Officer Batista at the USCIS Miami Field Office is not only alarming, but it is a disgrace to the amazing cohort of leaders across the federal workforce who work hard to ensure that individuals like Officer Batista feel safe and welcomed in the office every single day.”
JD Howlette Law provides high-quality civil litigation services to clients throughout the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, and Florida. The firm dedicates a significant portion of its practice to representing clients in disputes involving violations of civil rights and individual liberties. For more information, visit www.jdhowlettelaw.com or call (202) 921-6080.