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Kelly O’Kell v. Ryan Zinke – US Department of Interior

This is a case brought under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). Kelly O’Kell worked for the U.S. Department of the Interior at the Agency’s Ephrata, Washington office as a Realty Specialist. She applied for a GS-12 Project Manager position. At the time of her application she was 56 years old. Ms. O’Kell did not get the job. A member of the hiring panel told Ms. O’Kell that the Agency decided to hire a someone who was “young and perky and going to bring new energy to the office.”


Ms. O’Kell immediately complained to Agency management about the discrimination. Management then embarked on a retaliatory course of conduct that ultimately led to Ms. O’Kell’s firing. A copy of Ms. O’Kell’s complaint is available here.


After filing suit Ms. O’Kell retained an expert witness who has written an opinion that the Agency’s treatment of Ms. O’Kell deviated from well established Human Resources (HR) norms. The Agency tried to exclude Ms. O’Kell’s expert from offering her opinion. The Court denied the Agency’s attempt to exclude Ms. O’Kell’s expert.


The Agency recently asked the Court to dismiss Ms. O’Kell’s entire lawsuit. Ms. O’Kell’s response to the Agency’s request and statement of facts in support of that response are available here and here.


On April 8, 2020, the court denied the Agency’s motion for summary judgment.

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