Sunday, January 11, 2015
Stacey Meyer - Fighting Employer Discrimination Against Adults With Mental Health Issues
One in four. That's a stat you don't hear bandied about on mainstream media.
That's an eye-opening 25% of the population, so it goes without saying that a significant percentage of the current American workforce are impacted in some measurable way by some kind of mental health issue.
Some, like Stacey, have faced real and overt discrimination in the workplace because of the stigma and misunderstandings of, and about mental health disabilities.
I try my best to be perspicacious in tone and subject on this blog and over the years I've covered many different examples of discrimination.
Mostly for issues related to racial discrimination as that's my own perspective, but I've also covered (and do cover) stories involving discrimination against people for religion, sex, sexual orientation, nationality, age and even physical size.
But this is the first time I've looked at discrimination against people because of something that cannot be "seen" as a physical trait; mental health.
I first heard about Stacey's story when her boyfriend contacted me through Twitter and asked if I'd use this blog to help bring some attention to her efforts to seek redress for being unfairly terminated from her job in 2011 because of issues related to the mental disabilities she suffers from.
Stacey has a petition up on Change.org that aims to reverse a decision by the Southern District of Florida and the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals which denied her the right to bring her case of employment discrimination before of a jury of her peers.
You can read more details about Stacey's case on the Change.org Website, and I hope you'll take a few minutes to sign her online petition as well.
Stacey spent 17 years working for the federal government, doing the kinds of thankless tasks that most of us don't really appreciate or think about, but all benefit from.
A lot of politicians who sanctimoniously call themselves "public servants" use their position to enrich themselves and the moneyed masters of the lobbyists who dispense cash and other goodies in return for political favors; as in former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell.
But Stacey truly was a servant of the public.
Most recently, she was a Consumer Safety Officer for the Department of Health & Human Services' Food & Drug Administration where she helped regulate the imported foods and other commodities that come into this country.
She also worked for the USDA as an Agricultural Commodities Grader for the Processed Products Branch, Fruit and Vegetable Division - before that she worked as a Housing Officer for FEMA assisting victims of Hurricane Andrew with housing and financial assistance.
When Stacey was dismissed for issues related to the symptoms she suffers from, she did the right thing; she waded into the red tape and followed the appeals process to try and have her case heard in court.
But after three and a half years, she's been financially devastated by the costs and legal fees related to her appeals to the Merit Systems Protection Board, the Southern District Court of Florida and the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Two years after being dismissed, she finally had a court date for her civil employment lawsuit scheduled for December, 2013, but lawyers for the government filed for a summary judgment and in November, 2013, Judge Cecelia Altonaga dismissed the case without Stacey getting her day in court.
Not cool, and certainly not fair.
Her case has also been complicated by some questionable actions taken and decisions made by her two former supervisors, Facundo Bernal and William Keck.
If read through the summary of her case on Change.org I think it's pretty clear Stacey's case deserves to be tried by a neutral third party in a court of law.
The road to justice for Stacey isn't an easy one, and her case is complex.
But you can really help her out and make a difference to her appeal just by taking a few moments to add your name to her online petition; which can be presented in her court file through a Supplemental Brief.
She helped a lot of average people out over the course of her government career; I hope you'll take a couple minutes to help her out.
If you're on Twitter you can also spread the word about her case using the hashtag #justice4Stacey