Economist May Pursue Discrimination Claim

     WASHINGTON (CN) – The D.C. Circuit allowed a black economist who worked at the U.S. Department of Agriculture to pursue her discrimination case against her former employer.

     The trial court had granted summary judgment to the USDA on Cheryl Steele’s case. She claimed the department discriminated against her by intentionally giving her an incompetent assistant, falsely accusing her of misusing government credit cards, excluding her from important projects, denying her a promotion and several cash awards, and giving her low performance ratings and bonuses.
     The district court found that Steele waited longer than 45 days to report an incident to an Equal Employment Opportunity counselor.
     Judge Garland found that the trial court improperly granted summary judgment to the USDA, since there is an issue of material fact over when Steele first contacted the counselor.
     Garland also found that the trial court used standards for timeliness and retaliation that were inconsistent with past Supreme Court decisions.

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