Leventhal's Case Against INS
Summary: Caryl Leventhal has Multiple Sclerosis. She
is Jewish and she is white. She was assigned to work in an all black unit within the
INS where she suffered constant ridicule for her race, disdain for choosing the Jewish
faith, and blatant discrimination against her medical condition. Her INS supervisor
repeatedly assigned Caryl to lift and move file boxes weighing up to 50 pounds, clearly
with cruel disregard for Caryl's medical condition which makes lifting heavy objects quite
During Caryl's entire employment within that INS office she was never allowed to forget
the fact that she was the only white person working there. She was also repeatedly
refused accommodation for her medical condition and was refused time off for the highest
holy day in the Jewish calendar.
When Caryl's Multiple Sclerosis worsened and she had to take time off work, her management
labeled her as AWOL (Away Without Leave) and terminated her.
In fact, INS was devious enough to
get another MS sufferer to sign the dismissal order and INS hid information on
Caryl's medical condition from him. Thus, Edward McElroy, District Director for the
INS, signed Caryl's termination order without access to critical information on the valid
medical reasons for Caryl's absences.
At trial, Mr. McElroy testified
that he had never met Caryl Leventhal, that he was not informed that she had Multiple
Sclerosis, and that he based his firing decision entirely on her supervisor's report
showing that Caryl repeatedly failed to show up for work. He testified in September
2000 that he would not have fired Ms. Leventhal had he known that the reasons for her
absences were related to her worsening MS.
Caryl and her husband are dedicated to getting justice from the INS for the racial and
other discrimination she suffered. They have refused to submit to threats from
anonymous callers and veiled threats from the powerful U.S. Attorney's office. The
Leventhals' are adamant in seeking justice and thereby helping other victims of reverse
So far the Leventhal's have flatly refused to accept any settlement offer from the
government which would include "sealing" (i.e., making secret) the terms of
Caryl's settlement from the American people. They believe U.S. citizens deserve to
know the extent of reverse discrimination in the workplace.
Leventhals' Letter to Adversity.Net
April 25, 2000
On April 25, 2000 the Leventhal's wrote to
"On October 8, 1999, the first case of racial discrimination against a white woman
employee by African-Americans working in the Immigration and Naturalization Service was
filed in federal court (Caryl B. Leventhal v. Janet Reno, 99civ.10405 October 8, 1999
Amended January 10, 2000).
"This was done after some three years of INS/EEO obstructing the process. It took two
years of battling with them to even accept Race as a Basis for the timely and properly
filed complaint, because (according to a very candid D/Regional Counsel, INS), they don't
want to create a racial incident.
"This case is now in the Discovery process. With no surprises, the US Attorney is
refusing to reveal non-individual racial employment statistics in one section (section
245) of INS, 26 Federal Plaza, NYC. They are hiding behind "client
confidentiality" and "unavailability."
"I could secure this information under the Freedom of Information Act, but that would
take too long. And while my wife's (the plaintiff) lawyer will be petitioning the judge
assigned to order this information released, I am aware of the imperial attitude taken by
the US Attorney towards these requests.
"We intend to take this case to trial. It is very strong, well documented and we want
a discrimination judgment against the US Department of Justice.
"Hopefully, they will appeal. We want a 2nd Circuit decision on the record to help
others. We will be meeting with the judge for the final pretrial hearing on June 15th.
After the nominating conventions, we will be making every attempt at gaining national
"But these statistics are very important (although not critical to the outcome) to
show racial profiling in the hiring process.
"The US Attorney's office is very upset about our web site publicizing Caryl's case.
They have made these feelings known."
-- Lieutenant Colonel Michael G. Leventhal
Update Oct. 15, 2000:
filed this report and update on October 15, 2000:
Leventhal v. Reno
Michael Leventhal writes: Our
case went to trial on Sept. 25, 2000. Here is my summary of the results:
Although the USDOJ wanted to
settle, (my wife) Caryl stood firm on her demand that there would be no settlement unless
INS / DOJ supply her with a letter stating that she was unfairly treated. Money was never
an issue to us, although we are far from wealthy. Caryl always told me that what happened
to her could never be undone, but she wanted it to have meaning so it wouldn't happen to
others. She felt that if someone in USDOJ could admit that she was mistreated, maybe
things would change in that agency.
We understood that standing up to
the might of the US Department of Justice's US Attorney "guard dogs" would be
difficult, but Caryl is someone of principle. Although we are not people of means, we
refused to be bought off. The results of the trial are as follows:
The trial of Caryl Leventhal v.
Janet Reno and the US Department of Justice was to begin on September 25th.
On September 22nd, Caryl's lawyer
received a call from a Mr. Kaufman, the Head of the US Attorney's CRIMINAL Division. He
told Caryl's lawyer to deliver the following message to me, Michael Leventhal:
said "The US Attorney's office Criminal Division is watching Leventhals
web site, www.justice-denied.net, very carefully." (As you may remember, this
is Caryl's website that I, her husband, designed and which I administer. Caryl wanted a
website because we had received a prior death threat that was duly reported via Certified
Mail to the USDOJ. Naturally, they refused to act on it.).
||Commentary: So what? The Justice
Department watches a LOT of innocent citizens. This statement represents a hollow
effort at intimidation by the US DOJ. This is a common tactic by the government when
faced with a challenge to its authority.
"Tell Michael Leventhal that he is skirting the limits of his First Amendment
||Commentary: US DOJ always threatens
plaintiffs with curtailment of their first amendment freedoms to speak out. Another
hollow threat designed to intimidate Plaintiff Leventhal. US DOJ has no power to
curtail the first amendment rights of plaintiff Caryl Leventhal, but DOJ hopes that their
veiled threat will intimidate Plaintff Caryl Leventhal and her husband into settling.
"We know Michael Leventhal owns firearms." Kaufman went on to identify one or
two of them, which means that they had just conducted a check relative to my legally
||Commentary: Again, so what? Access to
gun registration information is freely available to those who know how to ask. Gun
registration info is virtually "public record". Obviously this is another
hollow threat by the government designed to intimidate Plaintiff Leventhal.
"The US Attorney's Office Criminal Division does not like the way the US Attorney
Civil Division is being portrayed on Leventhals web site,
||Commentary: A really BIG "So
What!" US DOJ watches everyone who does not agree with their policies.
This statement indicates that DOJ feels that their "displeasure" should
intimidate Plaintiff Leventhal into keeping quiet about the discrimination she has
suffered at the INS. Unfortunately, there is no Canon of Ethics which prohibits
federal lawyers from engaging in such hollow intimidation tactics.
Not being the diplomat, I
informed Caryl's very nervous attorney to deliver a message from me. My message to DOJ was
"Lieutenant Colonel Michael Leventhal says that the Head of the US Attorney's Office
Criminal Division can kiss his Jewish ass."
I immediately placed information
about the intimidating phone call from DOJ on www.Justice-Denied.net. You can reach
it by scrolling down a few inches on the homepage and clicking on the hyperlink
"Delusions of Omnipotence."
At trial, it turned out that the US
Attorneys never raised the issue of our web site -- www.justice-denied.net. Apparently the
US Attrorney did not want to open the door to testimony and evidence regarding the facts
presented on our web site. The government preferred that the jury not be allowed to hear
the contents of the web site.
Ive beem a soldier in the
Reserves for many years. I've been decorated for bravery. I don't take very well to being
strong armed, particularly by my own government and even more particularly by people
trying to intimidate a witness (me) and a dying plaintiff with Multiple Sclerosis (Caryl).
I brought up these events when I
was testifying as a witness at Caryls trial, but the judge didn't pick up on it.
From the beginning, the trial was
compromised. Caryl's lawyer was very nervous about the intimidating call. Given the fact
that on April 26, 1998 we had already received and recorded a very anti-Semitic death
threat, Caryl was absolutely petrified. Throughout the entire trial, I sat with her and
she clutched my hand as tightly as someone with Multiple Sclerosis can do.
She was so frightened that she
couldn't make a final rebuttal to defense witnesses at the end of the trial.
Several times during the trial
period, Caryl broke down in tears and said she thought the USDOJ was going to kill me.
Needless to say, I was absolutely furious during the entire trial. Ever since our April
26, 1998 death threat, I had written my own life off as expendable. The important thing
was securing justice for the wife I so love. You can read about the documented threat in
www.Justice-Denied.net by sliding down a bit on the homepage and clicking on "INS
Targeted Terror against a Disabled Woman."
I can't believe that in past years, I
ever thought of the USDOJ as "the good guys."
The trial was very brutal, which I didn't
mind because I like a good fight. Then again, I'm not a lawyer. I'm a computer techie and
a soldier. The court system is not my battlefield and I don't know the rules. On the other
hand, Caryl is rather frail. Her MS is slowly killing her and the actions of Mr. Kaufman
from the US Attorney's Office Criminal Division didn't help.
In any event, the witnesses were
called. Brenda Grant, Caryl's primary tormentor was very straight about many things. She
admitted that she would stand over Caryl in front of Caryl's staff and yell at her and
INS supervisor Brenda Grant
admitted that Caryl was kept out of departmental planning sessions (although Caryl was
always held responsible for things that went wrong). She admitted that Caryl asked her for
help carrying the fifty pound boxes and climbing unsteady shelving (remember that Caryl
has Multiple Sclerosis and can't do these things without serious problems. And none of
this was in her job description or else she never would have taken the job). Ms. Grant
then denied that Caryl ever told her she had Multiple Sclerosis although that would be an
act of suicide on Caryl's part. Grant admitted that when Caryl became ill with an
Exacerbation of Multiple Sclerosis, both Caryl and I called in sick for her. Ms. Grant
admitted receiving letters from us and doctor's notes. She admitted that in spite of this,
she marked Caryl AWOL for every day she was home critically ill and denied her accumulated
sick pay. She admitted that during the period of Caryl's critical illness, she never wrote
or called to find out how Caryl was. And, when asked during her trial testimony if she
cared about Caryl's condition during this period, she very matter of factly stated
Oh yes, Ms. Grant also admitted
that she denied Caryl September 23rd off (Yom Kippur) on the grounds that she didn't fill
out the proper form.
Then Edward McElroy, the District
Director for INS, testified. McElroy was the one who signed Caryl's termination letter,
although it should be noted that neither Caryl nor McElroy ever met. Mr. McElroy also has
He was asked if he knew when he
terminated Caryl that she was home ill due to her Multiple Sclerosis. McElroy said
He testified that INS supervisor
Brenda Grant told him that Caryl Leventhall had simply stopped showing up for work.
When asked if he would have
terminated Caryl if he knew she was home confirmed ill, McElroy said that he would not
have done so.
My admittedly subjective opinion is
that the jury hated INS supervisor Brenda Grant and loved Caryl. Their hearts went out to
Caryl and the brutality to which she had been submitted by INS supervisors and co-workers.
And now, for the decision. Remember
that a good deal of evidence was not allowed at the trial. Non-lawyers (myself included)
never realized that through legal motions and declaring evidence "irrelevant" at
the trial, key evidence can be ruled inadmissible.
One piece of key evidence ruled
inadmissible -- and which the jury was therefore not allowed to hear -- was the telephoned
anti-Semitic death threat that we received on April 26, 1998 during the period when we
were actively involved with a federal EEO judge during the EEOC complaint phase of our
We tape-recorded the phone call,
which contained a statement similar to the following: "You don't know when to quit,
you fucking Jew. You and your loony wife. We're going to get you Nazi style."
The judge ruled this tape recording
inadmissible because it would prejudice the jury against the USDOJ. Not being an attorney,
this logic eludes me. Caryls claim of a hostile work environment at INS hinged on
the anti-Semitism she experienced at the INS. The taped phone call would have been a key
piece of evidence in our ability to prove hostile work environment.
Other things the judge ruled
inadmissible at trial included our documented evidence that some 20% of Brenda Grant's
staff at the INS was subsequently arrested for on-site criminal behavior. This fact
clearly would have illustrated that Caryl Leventhals supervisor at the INS, Brenda
Grant, was clearly incompetent in her assessment and evaluation of employees
abilities and proclivities.
We believe that the corruption and
criminal activity in this INS office, and my wife, Caryl Leventhals, refusal to
participate, constituted a major reason why Caryl's staff disliked her and antagonized her
so much. When INS staff invited Caryl to join the corruption and criminal activity in the
office, she refused. Caryl Levnthal continually attempted to stop the criminal endeavors
of INS staff, and even provided written suggestions to INS supervisor Brenda Grant for
clamping down on these criminal activities.
Caryl and I clipped newspaper
articles from the NY Post, Newsday and the New York Times which reported the names of INS
staff engaged in criminal activities. But none of this was allowed as evidence at trial.
The judge ruled against us on this point based on the objection of the US Attorney.
In any event, before a jury goes
out to vote, the judge Charges them. In this case, the judge told them that in a civil
trial such as this, they must put aside their feelings of right and wrong and good and
bad. This case is simply a matter of whether acts done to Caryl, no matter how brutal,
were violations of relevant law. There is apparently no law protecting someone from a
rotten sadistic boss.
According to our lawyer, our
lawsuit against the INS and the US DOJ had to narrowly prove discrimination under the
terms of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII). The only acts protected under Title VII
are discrimination due to race, religion, color, and / or national origin.
Early on in the trial, our charge
of "racism" was killed.
Given these limitations, Caryl and
her lawyer were forced to argue that INS and DOJ had subjected her to religious
discrimination under the terms of Title VII. Of course, this limited approach didnt
allow us to address the documented fact that INS supervisor Brenda Grant and other INS
employees harassed Caryl Leventhal for many reasons other than her adopted Jewish faith.
Also, remember that the Judge had
disallowed the tape-recorded, anti-Semite death threat we had received by telephone. That
tape was a key piece of evidence proving religious discrimination by INS toward Caryl
Leventhal. Thus the jury was not allowed to hear the tape of this phone call.
During the trial, Caryl and her
lawyer were prohibited from referring to the taped anti-Semite, death threat phone call
except in the most vague terms: Our side was only allowed to refer to a "nasty"
or "threatening" phone call, but not to the content of the phone call.
Anyway, the judge went on to
insturct the jury that the burden of proof was on Caryl to show that the terrible things
that happened to her were caused by religious prejudice. If the jury felt that Caryl had
been unable to prove this -- within the severe restrictions imposed by the judge -- then
no matter what the other reasons might be for her brutalization by INS, the jury was
instructed to not consider anything except direct evidence of religious discrimination as
defined by the judge.
After being instructed by the judge
regarding the relevant points of law, the jury retired for deliberations and returned some
time later looking like they were attending a funeral.
The jury -- which we felt was quite
sympathetic to Caryls situation -- were forced to ignore evidence of deliberate
brutality, gross insensitivity, and an overtly hostile work environment. Instead, the jury
was forced to limit their deliberations to a narrow definition of "religious
Caryl's lawyer worked his heart out
but he was limited in his experience against a war machine like the US Attorney's Office.
You can find all information including the charge to the jury by going to
www.justice-denied.net and clicking on the "Trial" navigation button on top of
the main page.
Over these past four years of
battle, the USDOJ must have spent well over $1,000,000.00 in costs... just because they
wouldn't say "I'm sorry for what happened" to a dying woman during the Admin
Process. Again, that's all she ever wanted. That and changing her records to show that her
being home critically ill due to actions of people at INS/USDOJ didn't make her (as stated
in her termination letter) someone "displaying poor dedication to your job."
I'm investigating the possibility
of filing an appeal on, among other things, that the actions of Mr. Kaufman of the US
Attorney's office Criminal Division compromised a free and fair trial through
intimidation. Certainly, I'm going to Congress about these actions. I'm very resolute.
We wanted Adversity.Net to know
what was going on because so many people like myself don't realize that
"Justice" is not an option in court. What matters is your legal staff, how much
money you have and how existing law can be twisted.
As for me, I'm fed up with the
whole system. I can't believe I spent so many years in uniform thinking I was protecting
something that had meaning. I guess there's no fool like a middle age fool.
When this whole thing is over, I'm
resigning my military commission. I never want to have anything to do with government
again. Caryl and I were the type of people who listened to the Star Spangled Banner with
tears running down our cheeks. We realize now that it's all a scam. Our Founding Fathers
must be turning in their graves.
Signed "In Liberty --
-- LTC Michael G. Leventhal"
For additional details and commentary in this important reverse discrimination case,
please visit the Leventhal's web site: http://www.justice-denied.net
END Case 20: Leventhal v. Reno MAIN Page.