For Immediate Release: March 17, 2023
Bryan Schwartz Law, P.C. Negotiates Historic $37.5M Settlement with the Department of State to Redress those Denied Employment
Oakland, CA — Today, a settlement was approved in the historic Meyer, et al. v. Blinken (Department of State) case. This landmark settlement overhauls a medical clearance system in place for decades which led to unlawful disability discrimination in the US Foreign Service.
The case commenced in 2006 and continued through contentious litigation until the settlement was signed in December 2022. Today, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) approved the class settlement.
Lead Class Counsel Bryan Schwartz of Bryan Schwartz law said it plainly. “In the past, people with disabilities were stereotyped as unable to serve their country in the Foreign Service. They were considered too risky to send abroad. They were, in fact, able and willing to serve with distinction. Through this important case, we have given them that opportunity.”
The class included all qualified applicants to the Foreign Service beginning on October 7, 2006, who were denied employment, or whose employment was delayed pending application for and receipt of a waiver, because the State Department deemed them not “Worldwide Available” due to their disability.
The class settlement delivers a sweeping policy change netting over 100 immediate job opportunities to class members. It also means a $37.5M payment to the class in this case – which amounts to over $150K/gross per class member, over $100K net, on average. Nearly two thirds of the class actively worked with Class Counsel and will receive an average net distribution of over $150K, each.
The class was first certified in 2010, and survived two appeals by the Agency in 2014 and 2015. After a multitude of motions and appeals, and over a year of steady negotiations, in December 2022, Class Counsel and Class Agents, Doering Meyer and Ryan Gibson, finally reached a settlement with the State Department.
Among the class members, there are powerful and moving stories filled with individuals committed to public service, who wanted to serve their nation.
Through working with Counsel, the named Class Agent Ms. Meyer was able to get a rare waiver. She has had a 15-year Foreign Service career. Ms. Meyer was denied hire outright at first because of her disability, Multiple Sclerosis, despite her own doctors’ reports that she could serve. She is now currently serving ably in N’djamena, Chad, at the southern edge of the Sahara in north-central Africa – one of the toughest posts in the world.
Another class agent, Dr. Gibson stepped forward, bravely telling the story of his mental health condition. He suffered from combat-related PTSD after serving in our country’s military. The State Department’s stereotypes about mental health conditions kept him from his dream career in the Foreign Service. He also had a long and successful career with the federal government, but his dreams that were shattered – of being a diplomat, in the Foreign Service – were never repaired.
Until today, individuals with disabilities had to meet the worldwide availability (WWA) requirement to prove they could serve in all poorly resourced locations. Now, for future applicants of all abilities, this will be met by showing only that a Foreign Service employee can go to the best-resourced posts, with or without reasonable accommodations, and in consultation with the individuals and their own doctors.
Schwartz added, “The effect is no less than opening the career Foreign Service – the face of America abroad – to people with disabilities. We are immensely proud to have reached this day.”
Bryan Schwartz Law, P.C. was assisted by the Washington, DC, co-counsel of Gilbert Employment Law. Additional documents and exhibits concerning the approved settlement agreement are at https://www.bryanschwartzlaw.com/meyersettlement.
About Bryan Schwartz Law, P.C.
Bryan Schwartz Law, P.C. has successfully litigated individual and class action complaints nationwide, helping to recover tens of millions of dollars for tens of thousands of employees, forcing corporations and Government agencies to change their practices and punish wrongdoers. Bryan Schwartz Law, P.C. is an Oakland, California-based law firm dedicated to helping employees protect their rights in the workplace. Mr. Schwartz and his firm have fought to prohibit discrimination, retaliation, and harassment, obtained reasonable accommodations for disabled employees, vindicated whistleblowers’ rights, and ensured that corporations pay workers all wages they are owed. www.BryanSchwartzLaw.com
Ms. Doering Meyer
Dr. Ryan Gibson
Bryan Schwartz, Attorney
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Exceptional people, powerful advocates, tough negotiators. Bryan Schwartz and senior associate Jane Mackie truly care about fairness and justice. Their hard work, attention to detail, and the time and responsiveness they devoted to all my questions let me know in a hundred ways that they…
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I was a member of the Doering Meyer class action lawsuit versus the State Department. Bryan Schwartz is a very tenacious and outstanding attorney. When this law firm first contacted me about the case, I was skeptical about their ability to win a case against…
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