A former subordinate of David E. Rivers has alleged in U.S. District Court that the former director of the D.C. Department of Human Services took her job away partly because she objected to two contract awards.
Joan Jones, who still works for the human services agency, but in a reduced capacity, is asking the court to award her compensatory and punitive damages, contending that Rivers discriminated against her on the basis of sex and violated her First Amendment rights by refusing to appoint her as permanent chief of the agency's planning office. She had been acting chief for 22 months.
A lawyer from the Office of the D.C. Corporation Counsel, representing Rivers, has argued that Rivers chose a more qualified contender for the job and that neither Jones' sex nor her positions on city contracts affected his decision.
Rivers is a key figure in an ongoing FBI investigation into alleged corruption in the award of D.C. contracts. He is on loan to a nonprofit educational institute from his job as secretary of the District of Columbia. He is still on the city payroll.
Jones testified yesterday that Rivers criticized her in June 1984 for opposing a contract to the Pitts Motor Hotel to shelter the homeless. Jones said that as acting chief of the planning office and a member of a contract evaluation panel, she voted against the contract because she believed it was too expensive and the contract term too long.
After the vote, Jones testified that Rivers asked her, "What the hell are you doing voting against black economic development?"
Jones testified that she fell further out of favor after she objected to job-training contracts awarded to another company. Jones said another mid-ranking agency official told her Rivers wanted a contract to the company awarded for less than $100,000. Contracts under that amount are subject to less review.