Man sues Army after supervisor limits travel

By Michelle Massey, East Texas Bureau | Jan 30, 2008

TEXARKANA -- A 63-year-old Vietnam and Gulf War veteran has filed suit against the U.S. Army, alleging his supervisors discriminated against him.

Although he took a few temporary duty assignments allowing him to travel, Gene Reynolds believes his supervisor limited his travel because of his age, disability status and as retaliation for previously filing an Equal Employment Opportunity complaint.

After returning home from assignment in Korea in 2004, Reynolds received priority placement as a Safety and Occupational Manager at the U.S. Army Reserve Command at Fort McPherson, Ga.

Reynolds wanted to travel to perform safety assistance visits, but his supervisor explained that he could not travel on temporary duty assignments until he traveled with a senior supervisor. The supervisor said Reynolds was not able to complete the supervised travel because he was on sick leave.

However, Reynolds admits he went on a few trips but just not as many as other employees.

Serving as his own attorney Reynolds filed a discrimination suit against the Secretary of the Department of the Army on Jan. 25 in the Texarkana Division of the Eastern District of Texas.

The suit asserts that Reynolds was denied travel assignments and received a poor performance appraisal due to disparate treatment because of his age (63), disability (40 percent compensated Vietnam veteran) and a previous complaint he filed with the EEOC.

Reynolds had filed a discrimination and harassment claim with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. However the EEOC's administrative judge denied that Reynolds had a valid claim of discrimination or harassment based on race, color, sex, age, disability, or history of EEO activity through the Civil Rights Act, Rehabilitation Act, or the Age Discrimination Act.

The judge stated that the Army presented legitimate non-discriminatory reasons for the poor performance appraisal including Reynolds failure to meet many of his work related goals and resistance to his supervisor's suggestions or directives to improve his performance.

At the administrative hearing, Reynolds did not deny the Army's explanations.

The EEOC decision concluded that although Reynolds is a 40 percent disabled veteran because of a back injury, it does not qualify the definition of a disability under the Rehabilitation Act.

The judge also denied Reynolds' claims of retaliation for previous EEO involvement because at the fact finding investigation Reynolds could not say for sure whether his supervisors were informed of his prior EEO activity at his command in Korea.

Reynolds suit states that his immediate supervisor wrote derogatory and demeaning information about his work performance on a performance appraisal, and accuses the supervisor of reorganizing job duties as a means to deny Reynolds a promotion and garner a promotion for herself.

Further, Reynolds believes his supervisor used him as a scapegoat through "willful and intentional discrimination." The plaintiff claims he was told, "He could retire, quit, or get a job elsewhere." Reynolds states that he was forced to retire in March 2007.

Within the recently filed lawsuit, the current Texas resident argues that the judge did not dismiss all of his claims. Reynolds also argues that the Army denied him representation prior to the hearing before the Commission's Administrative Judge.

The lawsuit seeks a minimum of $300,000 for pain and suffering, a promotion and an adjustment to upgrade the plaintiff's retirement benefits.

U.S. District Judge David Folsom has referred the case to Magistrate Judge Caroline Craven.

Case No.: 5:08cv00013

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