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DHS/ICE Agreement to Pay $125,000 to Black Intelligence Research Specialist with PTSD to Settle Federal Disability Harassment and Retaliation Lawsuit

Photo by Bill Oxford on Unsplash

Ronald Green, a former Senior Intelligence Research Specialist with the Miami office of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) who suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), will be paid $125,000 by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to settle his federal lawsuit claims for disability harassment and retaliation. Green was represented in the lawsuit by Roderick Hannah. The case was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

According to the lawsuit and his attorney, Green claimed that because of his PTSD he was the victim of unlawful harassment and a hostile work environment created by members of management and his supervisors, all of whom were aware of his disabling condition. When he internally and repeatedly complained about the hostile work environment he was experiencing, Green claimed he was retaliated against by the same managers and supervisors with further harassment, unfair official counselings and reprimands, an unfair negative performance review, denial of reasonable accommodation requests, denial of a within-grade increase of his annual salary, stripping of his additional special security representative duties that derailed a promotional opportunity, and a forced early retirement on the advice of his doctors and to avoid the exacerbation of his PTSD symptoms, which Green viewed as life-threatening.

As further described in the lawsuit and court filings, for most of his 19-plus years with the agency and until January 2017, Green had never been disciplined and had received consistently excellent performance evaluations. However, in January 2017, there was a management change at the Special Agent in Charge Intelligence Program in which Green worked and which was being run at the time by Special Agent in Charge Mark Selby. According to the lawsuit, Green was subjected to repeated harassment by the then Deputy Special Agent in Charge Anthony Salisbury, the Program’s Chief Intelligence Officer Jacob Dumansky, and Green’s first line supervisor Jada Keltz.

According to the lawsuit, Green repeatedly informed Salisbury, Dumansky, and Keltz of his PTSD and his need to be accommodated by not being required to conduct certain in-person intelligence briefings with the Special Agent in Charge. Green also repeatedly requested one-on-one meetings, first with Salisbury and then with Special Agent in Charge Selby, to fully explain his situation and the need for management and his supervisors to be sensitive to and accommodating for his disability and its limitations. However, Green claimed that each of his efforts to schedule these private one-on-one meetings and his efforts to be accommodated were thwarted by Salisbury, Selby, and Dumansky. According to Green, his requests were instead met with insensitivity, negative feedback, and a ramping up of the harassment. When he ultimately complained about his situation in writing and even after his attorney, Hannah, intervened on his behalf, Green was retaliated against, still was not accommodated, and continued to meet resistance and hostility from his supervisors, Salisbury, Dumanksy, and Keltz.

As a result of these actions, according to the lawsuit, Green suffered severe emotional distress and mental anguish, the exacerbation of his PTSD, and even was hospitalized. The lawsuit further alleged that because of the continuing harassment and retaliatory actions being taken against him by management and his supervisors, he lost a valuable promotional opportunity and was left with no choice, per his physician’s recommendations and for his own mental and physical wellbeing, to take an early retirement with decreased retirement benefits.   

After more than a year of fighting his lawsuit in federal court, the Department of Homeland Security ultimately agreed to pay Green $125,000 to settle his claims instead of going to trial. Although according to his attorney, Green feels some vindication for what the agency put him through while he was employed, Green firmly believes that the agency needs to be more sensitive and accommodating to those of its employees, such as him, who suffer from severe PTSD, a much-misunderstood disability.

According to his attorney, after agreeing to the settlement, Green authored and sent a letter to Alejandro Mayorkas, the new Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, asking for a one-on-one meeting with Mayorkas and upper agency management to discuss his situation and how the agency could better address the handling of employees with PTSD going forward. 

“He hopes to have his voice heard by those who are in charge, contrary to the mistreatment and cold shoulders he repeatedly received from his local managers and supervisors,” Hannah said, adding, “We hope that DHS, at Mr. Mayorkas’ insistence, will agree to meet with Mr. Green and take the necessary steps to make sure in the future that no employee with PTSD has to suffer harassment, discrimination, and insensitivity in the workplace.”            

About the Author

New York Trend is a weekly news publication that focuses on issues and lifestyles of the African & Caribbean American communities throughout the New York metropolitan area and Nassau and Suffolk Counties of Long Island. It is a respected and well recognized news publication that has been in existence since 1989. Owner, Publisher and Executive Director, Dr. Teresa Taylor Williams has been at the helm of this award-winning publication since its inception. New York Trend continues to be the only black woman-owned, metropolitan newspaper in New York and Long island. New York Trend is the largest black-owned newspaper throughout Nassau and Suffolk counties.

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