A former employe of the D.C. Rental Accommodation Office (RAO), who was fired in early June, has filed suit in U.S. District Court here contesting his dismissal.
Simon Banks, a lawyer who had worked as a temporary, part-time hearing examiner for RAO, charged in a $1.15 million lawsuit filed July 11 that Bowles Ford, administer of the RAO, fired Banks because of a decision Banks issued in an eviction case this spring.
Banks was hired as a part-time examiner in August 1977. He was dismissed from his position on June 6 this year.
In a memorandum that Ford sent Banks informing him of the dismissal. Ford said Banks was being fired because he had failed to fulfill job responsibilities, because he was guilty of conduct unbecoming to a hearing examiner and because of unauthorized contact with the press.
Banks contended in his lawsuit that he was fired because he refused to give one eviction case - involving the McLean Gardens apartment complex in Northwest Washington - special treatment.
CBI-Fairmac, owners of the complex sent eviction notices to tenants in March, saying that they intended to discontinue McLean Gardens as a housing development. In May CBI-Fairmac signed a contract with a California builder, Dwight Mize, who said he planned to buy the complex and convert it to condominiums.
On May 23 Banks issued a provisional restraining order temporarily halting any evictions at McLean Gardens.
Banks, in a recent interview, said he issued the order chiefly because he believed the owners of the complex had misled the RAO on what they intended to do withthe complex.
Banks also issued a "show cause" order in the case to determine whether CBI-Fairmac should be fined $5.000 for filing what Banks termed in the order "a false and misleading statement with the RAO."
CBI-Fairmac officials, however, have repeatedly contended that as current owners of McLean Gardens, their plans are to discontinue the project's housing use. Mize who has signed a $27 million contract to purchase the Gardens, still has not completed the deal.
A hearing on the show cause order was held June 26. A decision from the RAO is pending.
A citywide tenants convention has called for an investigation of the dismissal, contending that Banks was fired because of pressure from city landlords. But representatives of several landlords say they believe the dismissal was justified because Banks had become too much of a pro-tenant advocate when he should have been acting as an impartial examiner in hearing landlord-tenant disputes.
Ford, the city rent administrator, said Banks was fired because he failed to perform his job properly. "Banks" failure to follow direct orders - written and verbal - was the reason for his dismissal," Ford said.