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Assistant U.S. Attorney Gets Jury Trial Over Retaliation Claims

May 27, 2020, 12:29 AM

An assistant U.S. Attorney reinstated more than a decade ago after she won a retaliation suit, will get to take new claims to trial alleging she encountered more harassment on her return to work, a federal court in Puerto Rico ruled Tuesday.

Marquez-Marin was fired from the U.S. Attorneys Office in Puerto Rico in 2005, after raising concerns about salary inequities and gender discrimination in the office, she said. She won a jury trial on retaliation claims, and after several months of delay, returned to work in her former position in 2008.

Upon her return, she again faced a hostile work environment and several instances of discrimination, she told the U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico in her 2016 suit.

In the four years following her reinstatement, Marquez-Marin underwent several major surgeries and rounds of chemotherapy. Management took the opportunity to again retaliate against her, she alleges, by failing to inform her of her right to work from home, forcing her to use sick leave when she was teleworking, and treating her differently than other similarly situated employees.

She also was consistently compensated at a lower rate than colleagues of equal stature, and assigned an increasingly large workload, she says.

The Department of Justice moved for summary judgment, arguing Marquez-Marin can’t demonstrate that her superiors’ actions were severe or pervasive enough to sustain a hostile work environment claim. No reasonable jury could find that Marquez-Marin’s work environment was causally related to her protected activity, it said.

But Marquez-Marin’s suit raises issues of fact that must be resolved by a jury, the court decided.

“The bottom line is that these differing perspectives are grounded in differing assessments of admissible evidence and raise factual issues this Court may not resolve within the confines of summary judgment practice,” Judge John A. Woodcock Jr. wrote for the court.

Berkan & Mendez represents Marquez-Marin. The U.S. Attorneys Office represents the state.

The case is .Marquez-Marin v. Barr, D.P.R., No. 3:16-CV-01706-JAW-JCN, 5/26/20

To contact the reporter on this story: Maeve Allsup in San Francisco at mallsup@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloomberglaw.com; Steven Patrick at spatrick@bloomberglaw.com

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