A federal judge here yesterday ruled that a black female federal employee "abused the judicial process" by filing a sex and race discrimination suit against her supervisors and ordered the woman to reimburse the government the amount of money it spent defending itself against the charges.
The ruling by U.S. District Judge John H. Pratt is the first time a plantiff in a bias case has been forced to pay the federal government after losing a claim, according to lawyers familiar with the growing number of discrimination cases filed in courts here and across the coutry.
Government officials said they probably would bill the woman at the rate of $27 an hour - less than most attorneys charge, since the government does not include such items as overhead in its billing - for a total of about $4,000.
Pratt said Copeland's discrimination claims were "baseless and frivolous" and were part of a "vendetta" she appeared to be conducting against her supervisors.
Since an appellate court ruling here two years ago, federal judges can no longer accept an administrative record of discrimination hearings. Instead, the judges must allow the charges to be aired anew.
Pratt conducted the nonjury trial in the Copeland case over a two-day period in late June.
Neither Copeland, who also claimed in her suit that she was the victim of job reprisals because she was a union officer, nor her attorney could be reached for comment on yesterday's ruling.
In an opinion released yesterday, Pratt found that Barbara Copeland, a GS-11 program specialist for the Community Services Administration, brought the suit "in had faith, with an intent to harass her supervisors and generally vex the defendant through her abusive conduct."
Pratt said in his ruling that there was no evidence that Copeland's failure to be promoted from a GS-11 to GS-12, as she had requested, was the result of race of sex discrimination.
He said agency figures showed that in fact, her agency had a black employment of 80 per cent, females out-numbered males by a ratio of two to one, and that her supervisor primarily promoted black females.
In fact. Pratt said, Copeland had gotten earlier promotions because she had filed grievances against her supervisors and had used the equal opportunity process in the agency "to improperly further her career and enhance her office status."