ACHIEVEMENTS

Over the years, our firm has had the privilege of assisting many wrongfully terminated, non-promoted and unlawfully harassed employees obtain redress. Most frequently, wronged employees obtain financial compensation. However, the firm has also obtained reinstatement to employment for numerous previously-fired employees. We’ve also frequently won employees promotions and other types of relief—such as admission to a medical residency. The following are just a few of our success stories:

LEIZER Z. GOLDSMITH IS HONORED AS “LAWYER OF THE YEAR” BY THE METROPOLITAN WASHINGTON EMPLOYMENT LAWYERS ASSOCIATION

On February 23, 2005, the Metropolitan Washington Employment Lawyers Association honored Leizer Z. Goldsmith as the 2005 Lawyer of the Year. MWELA President Linda Correia presented the award to Goldsmith at the organization’s annual luncheon. Correia cited several of the Goldsmith Law Firm’s recent litigation successes, and noted that several have been accomplished on behalf of indigent or low income clients who might not have been able to obtain representation without The Goldsmith Law Firm or a similar firm. Correia generously referred to Goldsmith as “the king of summary judgment,” in recognition of his many successes in preventing employers from having their employees’ and former employees’ suits thrown out of court without trial. In accepting the award, Goldsmith attributed much of his success to his practice of taking on cases for low and modest wage earners. After thanking his family, his clients and the many colleagues who have assisted him along the way, Goldsmith added that: “We are fortunate, indeed blessed, to live in a political/economic system that, for all its many faults-and there are many-still permits us to sometimes take on Wal-Mart or even the United States Government when it mistreats a single employee, no matter how low on the organizational chart. These types of victories may not each make profound social change, but I believe they do make this a better country, bit by bit.”

JURY RETURNS VERDICT FOR DEPUTY U.S. MARSHAL OF $1,350,000.00

On July 14, 2008, a jury of five men and three women at the federal court in San Juan, Puerto Rico, reached a verdict in the amount of $1,350,000.00, in favor of our client, Mick Orr, the former Assistant Chief Deputy United States Marshal for the District of Puerto Rico, in his case against the United States Marshals Service.

Orr, 51, the Assistant Chief from 1999 to 2001, claimed that while he was Assistant Chief, then-United States Marshal Herman Wirshing and his Acting Chief, Juan Donato-Morales, discriminated against him because he is not from Puerto Rico, and retaliated against him because he protested the failure to promote, by denying him promotion to Chief and subjecting him to a hostile work environment.

Orr presented evidence over nine days of trial, which convincingly demonstrated that Wirshing made numerous statements to the effect that he intended to promote only Puerto Ricans within management, and backed up those statements by manipulating the Marshals Service’s personnel system with the assistance of headquarters personnel in Arlington, Virginia, in an elaborate scheme designed to keep Orr from ascending to Chief, and to advance Donato’s chances of obtaining the job. The evidence revealed that Donato never did become the permanent chief because of an incident that caused him to leave the Service altogether.

Before Orr left Puerto Rico in despair in early 2001, Wirshing and Donato carried out a pattern of harassment and intimidation against Orr and those who did not agree to participate in isolating him.  Significant evidence was presented in the case that five local Puerto Rico police officers assigned to work as subordinates to Orr in his capacity as leader of the Puerto Rico Fugitive Task Force were fired from the task force by Wirshing because they were viewed as loyal to Orr, including one who provided detailed testimony of how Donato called him away from the scene of a near arrest of a fugitive, to inform him that he was summarily fired from the task force without explanation.   One of those officers was also denied a position in the Marshals Service that Wirshing had previously promised her.  The police officers, as well as Marshals Service deputies on the Fugitive Task Force were asked by Donato if they were “Netas” or “insectos”, analogizing to a conflict between the powerful prison gang and the snitches, implying that the officers should join Donato’s gang.  Deputies from the continental United States were belittled by references to them as “f-ing gringos” and sometimes a “gringo maricon (faggot).” Donato was quoted as saying that “these gringos are like the plague.” Orr was explicitly placed under the authority of Donato, even though Donato was a lower-graded employee under the Marshals Service’s national promotional system. He was warned of the obvious that there was an attempt underway to “screw him up” and was otherwise retaliated against. The jury returned a verdict for 1.35 Million Dollars. The agency was then ordered to pay the statutory maximum of $300,000.00, plus full back pay, and to instate the Plaintiff into a GS-15 or equivalent position (which it then did). Later, the case was concluded with payment of attorneys’ fees and costs.

LEIZER Z. GOLDSMITH WINS TWICE FOR MEDICAL BILLER AT MARYLAND’S SUPREME COURT, IN 2002 AND 2008

On February 27, 2008, The Maryland Court of Appeals issued its second ruling in favor of Mr. Goldsmith’s client, Joy Friolo, on the issue of attorneys’ fees. The decision was noted in The Daily Record newspaper and the oral argument can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?

Ms. Friolo originally brought claims against Defendants Dr. Douglas Frankel and the Maryland/Virginia Med Trauma Group for unpaid bonuses and overtime. The case was tried over two days, June 25-26, 2001, before the Honorable Judge DeLawrence Beard. The jury awarded Ms. Friolo $11,778.85.00 for unpaid bonuses/breach of contract, and unpaid overtime, finding the Defendants both liable on all questions of liability presented to them.

After the defendant’s unsuccessful Motion for New Trial by the Defendants, the parties litigated the attorneys’ fees to be paid by the Defendant. Ignoring our fee petition seeking lodestar fees- the reasonable hourly rate times the number of hours reasonably expended on the representation, Judge Beard awarded forty percent of the verdict, which came to approximately $4,700.00, or approximately $17.00 per hour. After we appealed the fee ruling to the Maryland Court of Special Appeals, the Court of Appeals granted sua sponte certiorari– meaning, it took the case without being asked.

The question presented to the Maryland Court of Appeals was whether the Circuit Court judge erred in failing to apply the “lodestar” to an attorneys’ fees petition under the Maryland Wage Payment and Overtime laws, and instead awarding forty percent of the judgment. The Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Ms. Friolo, stating that the purpose of the attorneys’ fees provisions in the statutes is to enable individuals whose rights under the statutes have been violated to obtain counsel, even when their claims may be for small sums of money. In this regard, the Court recognized that the fee award may properly be higher than the damages amount in certain circumstances, and referred generally to the existence of federal precedent on that point. The employer attempted to convince the Court to treat the (wage payment) case differently from a civil rights case, but the Court declined to adopt any such distinction. The Court also rejected the notion that the statutes’ “permissive” language (that fees may be awarded) could in any way undermine the fact that the purpose is remedial and that the usual result when the Plaintiff wins should be an award of fees.

After the case was returned to the trial court, the defendant, Dr. Douglas Frankel, prevailed in 2006 at the intermediate appellate court, in arguing that Ms. Friolo was not entitled to shifted attorneys’ fees for the effort involved in obtaining the earlier victory before the Court of Appeals. However, the Court of Appeals has now reversed that ruling, underscoring the principle that under Maryland’s wage payment and overtime laws, a plaintiff is entitled to reasonable fees for the efforts necessary to obtain any of her remedies, including attorneys’ fees.

After further litigation in the lower courts, Dr. Frankel filed for bankruptcy. Mr. Goldsmith represented Ms. Friolo’s interests before the bankruptcy court, persuading that court to permit resumption of the fees litigation.  The Maryland Court of Appeals will be hearing the case for a third time in spring 2014, on the novel issue of whether the fees to be awarded should be reduced on account of the progression of settlement negotiations.

LEIZER Z. GOLDSMITH WINS REVERSAL OF SUMMARY JUDGMENT DECISION AT THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FOURTH CIRCUIT, AND FAVORABLE SETTLEMENT, AGAINST A MARYLAND COUNTY

In June 2006, Leizer Z. Goldsmith succeeded in settling the case of Coleman v. Talbot County, Maryland. The case involved the severe sexual harassment and retaliation of a detention officer at the Talbot County Detention Center. It case was particularly notable for the fact that summary judgment was granted to the defendant on a procedural issue, namely, that while she did inform EEOC of the identity of her lawyer, she did not update her personal home address, resulting in her filing being technically late according to the trial court. However, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit reversed the summary judgment that had been granted against Coleman, opening the way to the settlement.

MANDATORY ARBITRATION VICTORY FOR LEIZER Z. GOLDSMITH’S SEXUAL HARASSMENT CLIENTS: $150,000.00 EACH

Two Claimants, who were obligated by a mandatory arbitration agreement that precluded them from going to court, suffered severe sexual harassment during their employment at a Hotel. The Claimants’ supervisor hired her relative as Claimants’ co-worker. He engaged in a pattern of sexual harassment, targeting numerous victims that ultimately included Claimants. The harasser’s actions included physical assaults in which he would rub his penis on his victims’ bodies through their clothes, attempted hugs and kisses, indecent exposures, propositions, incessant questioning of his targets regarding sex, and far more. The harassment was known to the supervisor because, despite her denials, she saw and heard many of the actions herself, and because some express complaints reached her. Hotel gave the harasser a warning for harassing a woman before the Claimants came to the Company, but rather than progressively discipline him, they thereafter abdicated responsibility for preventing his misconduct. Understanding that he had carte blanche, the harasser proceeded to intimidate the entire department staff into tolerating his misbehavior. As one has stated, everyone would tell him to cut it out when he was in the midst of harassing a woman in full view of other employees, but that never stopped him from starting a new round of outrageous behavior later. The Harasser exposed himself and assaulted one Claimant on numerous occasions, and assaulted the other in full view of the supervisor, who did nothing. Soon thereafter, he was dragging a Claimant indicating every intention of raping her. At that point, Claimants both recognized that they had to overcome their fears and challenge Hotel to put a stop to the outrages they were experiencing. When they protested directly to the supervisor, the harasser voluntarily resigned without any pressure from management. However, in the period just after the harasser resigned, the Claimants experienced extreme hostility from their management. The Arbiter found that Claimants resigned thereafter. The Arbiter found that Hotel subjected the Claimants to a hostile environment by allowing the described harassment, and made awards of $150,000.00 to each, plus an additional award of attorneys’ fees and costs.

IN U.S. DISTRICT COURT OF MARYLAND IN GREENBELT, SUMMARY JUDGMENT IS DENIED, AND SEXUAL HARASSMENT CASE IS SUCCESSFULLY SETTLED, AFTER EEOC ADMINISTRATIVE JUDGE HAD RULED AGAINST THE GOLDSMITH FIRM’S CLIENT

In December, 2004, our firm received an opinion by United States District Judge Alexander Williams, denying a defendant’s motion for summary judgment, thereby permitting us to proceed to trial on behalf of a federal employee who was sexually harassed. The case settled successfully shortly thereafter.

The Plaintiff was subjected to thirty to forty comments about the tightness of her skirts and the shape of her legs, which came on a daily basis for some time. The harasser also made sounds suggesting that she would taste good, and referenced “hitting” on her. He would stare at the Plaintiff, making her feel “nasty,” and would block her path so she could not get by. After the plaintiff protested to management about this conduct, and refused to withdraw those complaints, the harasser upped the ante in a ferocious pattern of retaliatory harassment that included the constant, seemingly unending punching of her office partition, the daily singing of his jingle-“I know where you live, I’m gonna get you,” personally threatening the plaintiff at her duty station on his day off, making numerous explicit and implicit threats of violence and death including leaving a bullet at her desk and then telling her “this is for you!”, threatening her with a golf club, threatening to blow up her house, and running her off the road. In addition, outrageously, the harasser insinuated himself into plaintiff’s children’s school where he volunteered as an assistant football coach. During this period, the harasser continued to make blatant sexually-oriented remarks, such as when he asserted that plaintiff must have “sucked” someone to be nominated for civilian employee of the month.

Our firm had previously tried this case to an EEOC administrative judge in Baltimore, who, despite crediting the plaintiff’s testimony, somehow decided that he could not hold the government agency defendant responsible for the conduct of plaintiff’s co-worker. Rather than give up, we proceeded to file the case as a civil action in the U.S. District Court. Our decision was vindicated, as the Court held that the conduct was sufficiently severe and pervasive to form a claim of sexual harassment, and that the agency’s failure to take sufficient corrective action despite clearly being fully aware of the harassment, was actionable. The plaintiff received a cash settlement, as well as attorneys’ fees.

LEIZER Z. GOLDSMITH IS CHOSEN BY PEERS AS SUPER LAWYER

Each year since 2010, Leizer Z. Goldsmith has been chosen as a “Super Lawyer.” Check out the Super Lawyers homepage and Mr. Goldsmith’s Super Lawyers page, for more on the significance of this designation.

LEIZER Z. GOLDSMITH IS CHOSEN BY PEERS AS ONE OF WASHINGTON’S TOP EMPLOYMENT LAWYERS

Leizer Z. Goldsmith was one of the “top employment lawyers” in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, as reported in the December 2004 Washingtonian Magazine. Washingtonian states that it “contacted hundreds of attorneys in each of the specialties and asked which lawyer in their field-other than themselves-they would trust with their business. Lawyers with the most recommendations made the list.”

LEIZER Z. GOLDSMITH WINS JUDGMENT OF $200,806.00 FOR VICTIM OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT, RETALIATION, AND FAILURE TO PAY WAGES

In Rainey v. Maximum Security, No. CAL 03-02720 (Prince George’s County Circuit Court), Leizer Goldsmith obtained a judgment in 2005 for $200,806.00, for compensatory and punitive damages for sexual harassment, retaliation, and unpaid wages caused by Maximum Private Security Corporation and Mervin A. Gillespie (collectively “Defendants”). Mr. Goldsmith was also awarded full attorneys’ fees and costs in excess of $140,000.00.

The Court presented the jury with special interrogatories regarding sexual harassment, constructive discharge, wage payment violations, and retaliation. There were 19 decisions for the jury to make on the verdict sheet and all 19 were answered in Ms. Rainey’s favor! The jury awarded all the hard damages requested, treble damages on the wage and pay issues, and punitive damages as well.

The case involved the harassment of our client, a security company employee, by the owner of the company, who died after the litigation got underway. He harassed her daily, in person and on the phone, persistently seeking sex, over a period of about a year and a half. On several occasions, he attempted to kiss her against her wishes. Our client complained to the owner’s brother, who was the company President, but he ignored the complaints. Retaliatory actions were taken against our client, first in the form of refusing to pay her bonuses due, and finally by stripping her of her office duties and assigning her to a guard post. Defendants claimed that she had engaged in misconduct but had no serious evidence to support the assertion.  The award was as follows:

Sexual harassment by the Corporation

$25,000.00

Sexual harassment by the brother/President (failure to prevent/correct)

$25,000.00

Retaliation by the Corporation

$35,000.00

Retaliation by the brother/President

$25,000.00

Constructive Discharge

$1,750.00

Failure to pay bonuses

$3,024.00

Additional damages (up to three times) for bonuses

$9,612.00

Failure to pay final paycheck

$1,650.00

Additional damages (up to three times) for failure to pay final check

$4,680.00

Constructive discharge / backpay for period of unemployment

$1,750.00

Punitive Damages from Corporation

$70,000.00

The trial judge ordered the Defendants to pay the Firm’s fees, and both the original judgment and the decision on fees became final.

FEDERAL EEO OFFICER SETTLES HER CASE FOR $404,000

In September, 2008, we settled a Title VII retaliation case, Perry v. Tschetter (United States Peace Corps), for $404,000.00. The case is interesting primarily because it raised the issue of whether EEO officers in the federal sector owe their agencies a duty to cover up management discrimination. The Peace Corps had fired Ms. Perry, allegedly for hiring this firm to represent her while we were also representing another individual with a related complaint against the Agency. After several years, the Peace Corps was ready to settle after the Deputy Director was deposed. She had been appointed to act as EEO Officer with respect to Ms. Perry’s Complaint and also as deciding official on the discipline. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s Management Directive 110, forbids the comingling of those roles. In addition, she was completely unable to justify the actions taken. It seems that the Peace Corps was not particularly interested in litigating out the Deputy Director’s conduct or whether it was terminable misconduct for an EEO Officer to hire a lawyer who was also representing another complainant.

PLAINTIFF REPRESENTED BY GOLDS MITH FIRM OBTAINS $237,000+ SETTLEMENT FROM WAL-MART IN DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION CASE

On December 28, 2001, Wal-Mart entered into a consent decree granting the plaintiff $176,975.00 in compensatory damages and $34,063.00 in back pay, as well as attorney’s fees and costs, in the case of EEOC v. Wal-Mart in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. The case concerned Wal-Mart’s failure to accommodate the plaintiff, a deaf individual, during the job application process and failure to hire her because of her disability. Wal-Mart also offered the plaintiff a job with a back-dated effective starting date entitling her to the wages and benefits of a three-year employee. This Firm represented the plaintiff, who intervened in a larger case.

VERDICT FOR THREE EMPLOYEE DISCRIMINATION VICTIMS: $928,200.00

On May 2, 2001, a jury of seven in District of Columbia Superior Court awarded a total of $928,200.00 in compensatory and punitive damages to three Latino immigrant laborers, in the case of Gutierrez v. Restaurant Equipment and Supply Depot. The jury found that three plaintiffs were entitled to compensation as a result of discrimination based on national origin, retaliation for protected protests against discrimination and battery. This Firm represented the three plaintiffs.

We alleged that Plaintiffs, who are Latino, were subjected to a hostile environment, called derogatory names (“stupid” and “garbage”), denied breaks and necessary safety equipment, discriminatorily paid less than non-Latino workers and unlawfully denied rightful wages. We asserted that Defendant Kim struck Plaintiff Gutierrez for handing him the wrong size screw, and that when Plaintiffs requested medical care for Gutierrez, Defendant forbade him from leaving the facility. We further alleged that as a result of protesting this situation internally to Defendants, Plaintiffs were retaliatorily fired.

Although they filed a dispositive motion and served their own discovery requests, Defendants’ counsel– Stanley Goldschmidt and Tamir Damari– refused to provide us with required information. Most importantly, they failed to file an answer when that motion was denied, as required by the Superior Court Rules.

The Superior Court — as it was required to pursuant to SCR Civil 12(a)(5)– entered a default order against Restaurant Equipment Defendants. The Court stated that its Order was “based upon Defendants’ failure to answer the complaint or to request an extension of time in which to do so.”

Restaurant Equipment Defendants moved to vacate the entry of default, asserting that the failure to file the Answer was inadvertent. However, the Superior Court found Defendants’ explanation failed to address the issue of the Answer, and declined to vacate. The Court maintained that posture in denying Defendants’ request for reconsideration.

We moved for a jury trial on damages instead of a judge-only hearing, and a jury trial was held on damages. Defendants’ counsel litigated vigorously. We obtained verdicts and a judgment for all three Plaintiffs, totaling over $900,000.00.

Defendants appealed only the entry of default and the Superior Court’s declination of the opportunity to vacate it. The conduct and outcome of the trial was not at issue on appeal.

Leizer Z. Goldsmith argued the case on appeal. Two questions were presented. First, whether the Superior Court abused its discretion in entering the default, or whether, as we argued, the entry of default was proper because it was explicitly mandated by law once Defendants failed to timely file their Answer. Second, whether the Superior Court abused its discretion in declining to vacate the entry of default.

The Court of Appeals held that the entry of default was indeed mandated by law. With regard to the question of whether the default should have been vacated pursuant to Defendant’s request, the Court agreed with Plaintiffs, that Defendants would have had to show “good cause.” Defendants had asserted that they had “inadvertently” failed to file their answer, and provided various, sometimes contradictory excuses for that failure, including some raised for the first time ever on appeal. The Court held that simply “forgetting” to file was insufficient to show good cause, especially where, as here, appellants had conceded at oral argument that they were reminded of their obligation to file by Plaintiffs nearly three weeks before the default was entered. Accordingly, the Court upheld the verdict in our clients’ favor.  Attorneys’ fees were later awarded as well.

GOLDSMITH FIRM WINS REVERSAL AT MARYLAND COURT OF SPECIAL APPEALS IN PRINCE GEORGE’S COUNTY DISCRIMINATION CASE; CASE SUBSEQUENTLY SETTLES

Leizer Z. Goldsmith and The Goldsmith Law Firm succeeded in reversing a Prince George’s County Circuit Court judge’s decision transferring a discrimination case to Montgomery County, Maryland. In the case, Pope-Payton v. Realty Management, the company argued that even though Ms. Pope-Payton worked for the company at its property in Prince George’s County, Maryland, and even though she sued under that county’s law, the case could only be heard in neighboring Montgomery County, because its corporate offices were located there. The Court agreed with Ms. Pope-Payton, however, that she should be permitted to bring the case in Prince George’s County. The case was later settled for a confidential sum.

LEIZER Z. GOLDSMITH OBTAINS $150,000.00 JURY VERDICT FOR DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS HOSPITAL HOUSEKEEPER

On November 3, 2000, a jury of eight women in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia returned a verdict of $150,000.00 for emotional harms, in favor of Clarence Walker, Jr., a housekeeper at the Department of Veterans Affairs Washington Medical Center, and against the Department. Walker, a United States Army veteran himself, claimed that he was denied promotion from his housekeeping post to a higher paying housekeeping position in 1996, when he was unfairly rated not qualified for the promotion by a hospital “rating panel.” At trial, Walker produced witnesses and documents to show that the panel was fixed against him because he had previously filed a discrimination complaint against the supervisor who controlled the panel (after the supervisor threatened to fire him because of a knee injury). Walker’s evidence included the testimony of a one of the panelists, who confessed to the misconduct, as well as “rating sheets” from the panel proceedings which supported Walker’s claim that the panelists improperly coordinated their ratings of applicants, rather than arriving at them independently. The damages awarded by the jury represented compensation for upset and anger over being unfairly passed over promotion, which resulted in personal turmoil for Walker, as well as the onset of migraine headaches. The case was presided over by Senior United States District Judge June Green, who has entered judgment against the Defendant, which was then required to provide additional back pay, promotion, and attorneys’ fees and costs.

PLAINTIFFS WIN $280,000 JURY VERDICT AND FINAL JUDGMENT FOR SEXUAL HARASSMENT AND RETALIATION

In July 1999, a jury in D.C. Superior Court recently awarded $280,000.00 in damages to three women represented by MWELA attorneys, after a two week trial before Judge Rafael Diaz. The jury concluded that Dr. Robert S. Beale, a bariatric (diet) physician with offices in the District, sexually harassed all three plaintiffs, retaliated against two of them, and that his conduct was willful and malicious. Plaintiff Laura Merriex, who was terminated after protesting the harassment, was awarded $90,000.00 in compensatory damages. The other plaintiffs were awarded $70,000.00 and $45,000.00 in compensatory damages. Each plaintiff was also awarded $25,000.00 in punitive damages. The Defendant was represented by Williams & Connolly. In December 1999, after the trial judge denied defendant’s motions to reverse the verdict, the judgment against Dr. Beale became final. Judge Diaz has subsequently awarded attorneys’ fees and costs to the plaintiffs and their lawyers. Neil Henrichsen, now of Henrichsen Siegel, and Leizer Goldsmith, of The Goldsmith Law Firm, represented Plaintiff Laura Merriex.

EMPLOYEE PLAINTIFF WINS SUMMARY JUDGMENT AS TO LIABILITY IN DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION CASE, CASE SUBSEQUENTLY SETTLES

Judge Henry Kennedy, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, granted Plaintiff’s Motion for Partial Summary Judgment on the issue of liability, in the disability discrimination case of Johnson v. Brown, Civil Action 96-01686. Judge Kennedy concluded that the United States Department of Veterans Affairs violated the Rehabilitation Act by terminating Plaintiff Michael Johnson’s employment in 1995, while he was working on a light duty assignment making surgical packs. The Judge ruled that Johnson could have been permitted to remain in the light duty assignment indefinitely without imposing an undue burden on the Agency. Both an MSPB administrative judge and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission had previously ruled against Johnson and for the Agency. The case was subsequently settled under terms extremely favorable to Johnson.

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