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Federal court denies EEOC request to extend discrimination suit against ASG

fili@samoanews.com

The federal court in Honolulu quickly denied a request by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to continue to later next month a ‘partial summary judgment’ hearing in the EEOC’s lawsuit against the American Samoa Government.

EEOC’s age discrimination suit was filed last year and ASG - through attorney Darin R. Leong - has denied the allegations.  In June this year, Leong asked the federal court to grant a “partial summary judgment in ASG’s favor, limiting the claims in the... lawsuit” to Department of Human Resources (DHR) employees Eseneiaso Liu and Manuia Lacambra.

In the alternative, “limiting the permissible scope of claims in the instant lawsuit” to DHR, the motion states. The federal court later set a hearing for Oct. 2 on ASG’s motion for partial summary judgment.

However, EEOC thru their Los Angeles based legal counsel Michael J. Farrell, filed a request on Wednesday this week asking the federal court to continue the hearing to a later date next month.

In the request, Farrell noted that EEOC’s fiscal year ends on September 31, 2012 and the Oct. 2 hearing date falls on the second day of EEOC’s fiscal year 2013.  “EEOC must have fiscal year 2013 funding in place to pay for expenses incurred in fiscal year 2013,” said Farrell. “EEOC anticipates that fiscal year 2013 funding will be in place at the start of the new fiscal year through a continuing resolution that extends short-term funding in the absence of a complete federal budget for fiscal year 2013.”

“In an abundance of caution, however, EEOC respectfully requests the court continue this hearing until October 8, 2012 or later in order to avoid the potential logistical problems that would result if fiscal year 2013 funds are not available quickly enough to pay for an EEOC attorney to travel on October 1, 2012 from Los Angeles to Hawaii,” the motion states.

EEOC has consulted with the defense, who does not oppose a continuance through October 19, 2012 but oppose a continuance beyond October 19, 2012 “because the case has been pending for a lengthy amount of time, this motion hearing date has been pending for several months, we have not yet done the major portions of discovery, and further delay may be prejudicial,” the motion states.

The same day that the plaintiff’s motion was filed U.S. District Court Judge Michael Seabright denied the motion, saying that in the event EEOC’s fiscal year 2013 funding is not in place by the time of the October 2, 2012 hearing, counsel for the EEOC may arrange to appear by telephone from Los Angeles.

The EEOC civil action suit accused ASG and DHR of violating the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and the case is set for trial next year with ASG denying the allegations.



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