Suit Yourself Who's Suing the D.C. Government This Week?

Plaintiff: Tanya D. Lewis

Defendant: Mayor Adrian Fenty, D.C. government

Damages Sought: $25.1 million

Complaint: Lewis knew her circuits. She started her apprenticeship in 1983, was a master electrician by 1998, and became the acting electrical supervisor for the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) in 2004. She thought she should be more than “acting.” When she applied for the permanent position, her complaint alleges, none of the other applicants—all male—had her qualifications. In the first round, no one was selected, and the job remained open. Three more times, the process was opened and closed without a hire. Meanwhile, the city removed her from acting supervisor without telling her why. Finally, on Round 5, the city chose William Davidson, who had worked under Lewis. He didn’t have her experience, but he had one extra qualification, according to the complaint: His brother was a supervisor in the same department. Lewis has since taken a job as inspection supervisor for the D.C. Housing Authority.

Quality of Representation: Good. Attorney John F. Mercer doesn’t throw much rhetoric into the narrative. He lets the facts make the case that cronyism and sexism were the reasons Lewis didn’t get the job.

Summary Judgment: Fenty’s a friend of womankind. Ten years ago, when the mayor-for-life was still mayor-for-life, the alleged malfeasance here wouldn’t be a tough sell. And coming, as it does, from inside DCRA—long the strongest redoubt of “old” D.C. government—it still isn’t. But so far, Fenty’s proven himself to be admirably gender- and color-blind with his personnel preferences—he’s picked a white woman, Linda Argo, to lead the agency. So, sorry, Ms. Lewis, no $25 million, but if the job was open for applications five times, we see no problem with re-opening it for a sixth. And let Davidson have your old housing-authority job—that’ll solve that nepotism problem.

DOWNLOAD: Tanya D. Lewis' court complaint (PDF)

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