Press Release |
Sutherland Represents Woman Diplomat Suing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for Age Discrimination
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WASHINGTON--(Business Wire)-- Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP, together with the Washington Lawyers` Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, filed a complaint today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, on behalf of Dr. Elizabeth O. Colton, a 64-year-old foreign service officer whom the Department of State has subjected to discrimination by denying her the opportunity to serve at certain posts simply because of her age. "Imagine if someone told Hillary Clinton she couldn`t be Secretary of State because she would turn 65 before her term is up," said Sutherland Litigation Partner Thomas R. Bundy III. "This case is one of first impression where the Department of State is preventing foreign service officers like Dr. Colton from taking certain posts years before they reach the 65-year-old mandatory retirement age for foreign service members under the Foreign Service Act." Mr. Bundy added, "We believe the State Department should stop this unlawful, discriminatory employment practice. The mandatory retirement age itself is unconstitutional, lacking any rational basis, and is based on outdated stereotypes and misinformation." During her career with the Foreign Service, Dr. Colton was offered a two-year post as the Chief of the Political-Economic Section at the U.S. Embassy in Algiers. She was the top choice for the position. After Dr. Colton accepted the offer and consequently had her bids withdrawn for other positions, the State Department`s Human Resources Department realized she would turn 65 sixteen months into the 24-month tour. As a result, Human Resources informed Dr. Colton that she could not take the position and filled the post with another candidate. In the end, Dr. Colton was forced to accept a less career-enhancing position to finish out her foreign service career within the current mandatory age limit. "We are confident that the court will finally agree that if presidents, judges, Congress members, civil servants, ambassadors and other political appointees in the State Department are capable of serving our great country well past 65 years of age, then so can your average citizen who is a foreign service officer," said Mr. Bundy. "Dr. Colton`s career is distinguished, and there is no reason a woman of her experience, energy and enthusiasm should be forced to retire when she wants to continue to serve." Since 2000, Dr. Colton has served in diplomatic assignments as a foreign service officer overseas in some of the toughest regions of the world, including in such posts as Islamabad, Baghdad, Khartoum, Algiers, Riyadh and Karachi. Before joining the Foreign Service, she was the chair of the mass communications department and professor of politics and media at Shenandoah University; served as Jesse Jackson`s press secretary during his 1988 presidential campaign; was an international journalist for Newsweek, ABC News, NBC News, Asiaweek, and Far Eastern Economic Review; and served as a diplomatic correspondent for National Public Radio in D.C. She also worked at the United Nations, in the U.S. Senate as a media adviser to the late Sen. Terry Sanford, and served as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer in Africa. Dr. Colton is represented by Sutherland Litigation Partners Thomas R. Bundy III and Lewis S. Wiener and Litigation Associate Christopher W. Hammond of the firm`s Washington, D.C., office, in conjunction with Susan Huhta of the Washington Lawyers` Committee. To read the full complaint, visit http://www.sutherland.com/files/upload/Colton_Complaint.pdf. The Washington Lawyers` Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs has represented both individuals and groups seeking to vindicate their civil rights for over 40 years. It has handled over 5,000 civil rights cases in employment, housing, public accommodations, and other aspects of urban life. It represents individuals living and working in the D.C. metropolitan area with claims of discrimination based on race, gender, national origin, disability, age, religion, and sexual orientation. It also assists immigrants seeking asylum and other immigration relief. The Committee's litigation efforts have become nationally known for landmark court victories, record judgments, and precedent-setting consent decrees. For more information, please see www.washlaw.org. ABOUT SUTHERLAND ASBILL & BRENNAN LLP. Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP is a law firm with global reach known for solving challenging business problems and resolving sophisticated legal issues for many of the world`s largest companies. Founded in 1924, the firm handles matters throughout the United States and worldwide. Seven major practice areas-corporate, energy and environmental, financial services, intellectual property, litigation, real estate, and tax-provide the framework for an extensive range of focus areas, allowing Sutherland attorneys to serve a diverse client base that ranges from small and medium-sized start-up businesses to a significant number of Fortune 100 companies. Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP Megan Miotti, 404-853-8438 email@example.com or Alycia Williams, 202-383-0144 firstname.lastname@example.org Copyright Business Wire 2009