Former Voice of America Persian Service Employee Awarded $175,000

A jury has found in favor of Banafshe Alavi (Bany) to the tune of $175,000 in a case she brought against the United States Agency for Global Media (USAGM).

Ms. Alavi worked as a contractor for the Voice of America (VOA) Persian Service for 10 years before she was finally hired as a federal employee on April 16, 2006. She was fired in 2007 just before her probationary period was over. Ms. Alavi accused Voice of America officials of discrimination and retaliation and brought a civil complaint against the USAGM (the parent organization of the VOA which was known as the Broadcasting Board of Governors at that time). The case was eventually presented to a jury which found retaliation and awarded her $175,000 in compensatory damages.

Equitable relief, which could result in reinstatement and back pay, will be addressed by the court at a later date. Ms. Alavi has been out of her federal position for 12 years.

Ms. Alavi complained that a supervisor was harassing her and after her one-on-one complaints got nowhere she arranged for a meeting with fellow members of the VOA Persian Service to bring complaints about the supervisor to the attention of upper management officials. Shortly thereafter Agency management accused her of time and attendance abuse and presented her with a removal letter on April 6, 2007.

Ms. Alavi then filed an EEO complaint which ultimately resulted in the jury award.

Some of the supervisors and managers involved in this case remain at the Agency. A charge of time and attendance abuse is a favorite stratagem for removing employees targeted by USAGM management. Employees and contractors who testified at the trial are protected from retaliation associated with their testimony.

Management at the USAGM has been consistently rated at the very bottom of federal government agencies in the annual OPM Employee Viewpoint Survey.