For more information please call  800.727.2766


Former Federal Public Defender‘s Case Will Go Forward Against Federal Judiciary

Caryn Strickland alleges the First Assistant Public Defender sexually harassed her while she worked for the Federal Public Defender’s Office. After reporting the harassment, the Federal Public Defender allegedly failed to act and retaliated against her. She tried to pursue her complaints through the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts and the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals’ Employment Dispute Resolution Plan. Strickland says she continued to be retaliated against, and the Fourth Circuit management never resolved the sexual harassment issues.

She sued various parties within the Fourth Circuit Federal Judiciary. The federal district court dismissed all of her claims. Strickland appealed to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which revived parts of her lawsuit. A three-judge panel comprised of senior judges from three other circuit courts reviewed her claims. They recognized Strickland’s constitutional right, as well as the right of all federal judiciary employees, to be free from sexual discrimination in the workplace. Citing the equal protection clause under the Fifth Amendment, they said judiciary employees in management roles may be liable for “their deliberate indifference to sexual harassment committed by a federal judiciary employee or supervisor against another federal judiciary employee.” Her case will now return to the district court for further proceedings under the same judge that dismissed her case initially.

Strickland brought her claims before the federal judiciary overhauled its processes for reporting misconduct. Congress is also considering legislation to extend protection to the judiciary employees who lack the same legal rights as other government and private-sector workers.