Bryan Schwartz Law, P.C. Negotiates Historic Policy Change with the Department of State

News & Events
Press Release
Bryan Schwartz Law, P.C. Negotiates Historic Policy Change with the Department of State

Bryan Schwartz Law, P.C. Negotiates Historic Policy Change with the Department of State

Legal Settlement Removes Barriers for Federal Workers with Disabled Family Members

This week, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia concluded the Martin v. Blinken (Department of State) case after a landmark settlement that will transform State Department policy regarding medical clearances for disabled family members (Eligible Family Members) of government employees. The settlement will put an end to a system that has limited employment opportunities for countless State Department members for decades.

Bryan Schwartz Law, P.C. first began the case in 2012, after federal employee Steve Martin complained that the State Department denied his 12-year-old daughter medical clearance, such that he was not allowed to bring his Eligible Family Member with him to a prestigious post in India, which he would have otherwise been permitted to do. Mr. Martin’s daughter had lived and traveled abroad without incident, and her doctors and educators agreed that she could go to India without difficulty, but the State Department refused to reconsider its decision.

Under the obligations of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, federal agencies cannot deny equal benefits of employment to federal employees associated with family members with disabilities. After more than a decade in administrative processes with the State Department and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Mr. Martin filed a federal class action in July 2022 challenging the medical clearance practices that led to his daughter’s denial of clearance, asserting that hundreds of others were similarly discriminated against in their benefits because they have family members with disabilities. In late September 2023, the case settled, among other terms requiring a policy overhaul, and this week, the Court closed the case.

The policy change provision of the settlement reads: “The State Department has approved policy and procedures revisions providing that Eligible Family Members’ medical clearances will not be denied unless the Eligible Family Member has a medical condition that poses a significant risk of substantial harm to the health or safety of the Eligible Family Member or others at post, based upon an individualized assessment. The State Department will make good-faith efforts to accomplish all planning to implement these revisions with an eye to implementing them by October 1, 2024.”

“Up until this point, the State Department forced employees to choose between their family members and job opportunities across the world,” said Bryan Schwartz, who negotiated the settlement. “This settlement will help countless employees going forward, we hope. The State Department’s policy change is transformative not only for individuals with disabilities, but for their families,” he added.

About Bryan Schwartz Law, P.C. – In 2023, after more than a decade of litigation, Bryan Schwartz Law, P.C., settled Meyer v. Blinken (Dept. of State) and Martin v. Blinken (Dept. of State), two cases which will overhaul the State Department’s medical clearance policies, affecting thousands of government employees and their families seeking opportunities abroad. For 15 years, Bryan Schwartz Law has dedicated itself to continuing the struggle for civil rights and equal employment opportunity, helping Americans from every background to achieve their highest career potential, recovering tens of millions of dollars for tens of thousands of workers. The firm focuses on individual, class, and collective actions involving discrimination and retaliation, harassment, denied disability accommodationswhistleblower reprisal, wage and hour violations, federal employees’ rights, and severance negotiationswww.bryanschwartzlaw.com

Share this post

Looking For
Help With Your
Workplace Concerns?

Bryan Schwartz Law, P.C. is also one of the few Bay Area-based law firms with extensive experience representing Federal employees in their unique Merit Systems Protection Board and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaints.

Meet Our Award
Winning Team

What Our Clients
Say About Us

Contact Us*

Submit an inquiry to have Bryan Schwartz Law, P.C. evaluate your situation.

*Your submission of an intake request form does not guarantee that Bryan Schwartz Law, P.C. will take your case or provide legal advice. You must be offered and sign a representation agreement with the firm before you will receive any legal advice.