MIAMI, October 7, 2022 – JD Howlette Law recently announced that it filed a federal civil rights lawsuit in the Southern District of Florida on behalf of Immigration Services Officer Charlie Batista, alleging that managers and supervisors at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Miami Field Office unlawfully targeted Officer Batista with malicious acts of intimidation, discrimination, and retaliation based on his sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability. According to the amended complaint, Defendants’ unlawful workplace conduct subjected Officer Batista to a hostile and toxic work environment that he was forced to endure for more than a year despite his several pleas for help. The hostile work environment significantly impacted Officer Batista’s physical and mental health, resulting in multiple hospitalizations, frequent medical treatment, and regular therapy sessions to cope with the high levels of workplace stress, anxiety, and trauma.
Officer Batista openly identifies in the workplace as a member of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, plus community (“LGBTQ+”), and he lives with a chronic anxiety disorder. The amended complaint alleges that Officer Batista has been regarded as a “model employee” by supervisors and colleagues since joining USCIS in 2008, underscored by his numerous professional accolades, including performance-related awards, outstanding or excellent job performance reviews, and countless scores of positive reviews from customers and their representatives.
Officer Batista’s workplace troubles began shortly after being assigned to the Office of Adjudications Section at the USCIS Miami Field Office. While in the Adjudications Section, according to the amended complaint, Defendants intentionally and maliciously targeted Officer Batista with acts of intimidation, harassment, humiliation, discrimination, and retaliation that were motivated—at least in part—by Officer Batista’s sexual orientation, gender identity, and/or disability. Defendants’ conduct consisted of, among other things: (a) forcing Officer Batista to violate protocols impacting national security concerns; (b) subjecting Officer Batista to persistent acts of ridicule, intimidation, and harassment on the basis of his disability; (c) intentionally denying Officer Batista’s requests for additional training; (d) maliciously delaying Officer Batista’s career ladder. promotion; (e) staging a security infraction to undermine Officer Batista’s performance reviews; (f) falsifying reports that Officer Batista engaged in unprofessional conduct during immigration interviews; (g) harassing Officer Batista with constant work product deficiency reports; (h) ignoring Officer Batista’s request for workplace resources in connection with his intent to transition genders; and (i) denying Officer Batista’s requests for reasonable accommodations based on his disability.
The amended complaint alleges Defendants’ unlawful workplace actions violated several federal and state civil rights laws, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Florida Civil Rights Act of 1992.