Update: February 2013 – Discovery in this case is currently stayed (on hold) while the parties are engaged in motion practice regarding Defendant SSA’s motion to decertify the class. Defendant SSA moved to decertify the class of employees with targeted disabilities on July 11, 2011. Plaintiffs filed their opposition on May 23, 2012., and filed a Supplemental Memorandum based on new information received from SSA on Nov. 7, 2012. SSA filed its opposition to Plaintiffs’ supplemental filing on Jan. 10, 2013, with Plaintiffs’ filing a sur-reply response on February 6. There is no timeline for when the Administrative Judge will issue an opinion on SSA’s Motion for Decertification, but this website will be updated when an opinion is issued.
Background: In November 2008, lawyers and advocacy groups for disabled employees of the Social Security Administration (SSA) were granted class-action status for a groundbreaking action against the agency that is currently before a judge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The class action (captioned Jantz, et al. v. Michael Astrue, Social Security Admin.) is currently pending before the EEOC. Defendant SSA moved to de-certify the class in July 2011. While the parties are engaged in that motion practice, discovery in the case is stayed until the motion is resolved.
The Agency appealed Administrative Judge David Norken’s decision granting class-action status in December 2008. The Agency and the plaintiffs submitted their respective papers to the Office of Federal Operations in early 2009 and, upon its review, the OFO affirmed the AJ’s decision in August 2010. The Agency moved for reconsideration, which was denied in January 2011. Notice of the class action was disseminated to potential class members in late January and early February 2011. See the Notice of Class Action for more information on this pending action.
In the Jantz action, employees allege that SSA discriminates against targeted disability employees (“TDEs”) “by creating a glass ceiling and limiting promotional and other career advancement opportunities,” according to the consortium of law firms handling the case for the complainants. Litigants are seeking back pay and compensatory damages for lost promotional opportunities.
Targeted disabilities are defined by the EEOC to include: deafness, blindness, paralysis, convulsive disorders, mental illness, and genetic and physical conditions affecting the limbs or spine.
Lead Plaintiffs / Class Agents
Ronald Jantz, T. Jameel Muhammad, Donna Ring, Ellen Altemose and Karl Baldwin are the Lead Plaintiffs / Class Agents in this class action law suit. Mr. Jantz filed an EEO Complaint in August 2005, which was converted to a class complaint in October 2006. He is a targeted disabled employee: he’s deaf. Mr. Jantz is highly qualified: he holds an MBA in Finance/Accounting, a Bachelors of Business Administration and an Associates of Business Administration. He’s been with SSA since 1988, when he started working as a GS-12 Management Analyst, and has a total of 31 years of federal service. Despite numerous applications for promotions and other advancement opportunities, Mr. Jantz has not once been promoted throughout his 23 year career at SSA. After 23 years of stagnation at his grade level, Mr. Jantz decided to take action. Muhammad, Ring, Altemose and Baldwin were added as Lead Plaintiffs / Class Agents when Plaintiffs moved for class certification in 2008.
An Administrative Law Judge certified the following class in October 2008:
All current and former employees with targeted disabilities at the Social Security Administration who, on or after August 22, 2003, have applied for and made a Best Qualified List for promotion, but were not selected for promotion.
In response to a letter informing targeted disabled employees of the law suit, responses were received from over 350 employees. Attorneys for the class estimate that the lawsuit will cover approximately 2,000 current and past employees.
When Ronald Jantz initially filed his EEO Complaint in August 2005, the Complaint included a failure to hire claim. On February 2, 2010 Administrative Judge David Norken denied the motion to certify a hiring class, covering the period August 22, 2003 to January 6, 2009. The Agency has appealed this decision, and it’s currently under review by the Office of Federal Operations.
Are you an employee at the Social Security Administration with a Targeted Disability? Have you watched your co-workers without disabilities climb the career ladder while you are stuck at the same grade level? Have you applied for promotions, only to have the position filled by less-qualified, non-disabled employees?
If you can answer yes to the questions in the preceding paragraph, or have any questions regarding this law suit, please submit your inquiry on the “Contact” page, found to your left, or contact any of the individuals listed as representatives of the participating law firms shown on the Attorney Profiles page of this website. Also, please refrain from contacting us from an @ssa.gov email address, or the SSA phone system. Please use your most convenient personal medium to contact us.