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Case 3:06-cv-01543-PCD Document 1 Filed 10/02/06 Page 1 of 31

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT


FOR THE DISTRICT OF CONNECTICUT

PEKAH WALLACE, :
Plaintiff :
: CIVIL ACTION NO.
v. :
:
CONNECTICUT COMMISSION ON :
HUMAN RIGHTS AND OPPORTUNITIES :
AND R. HAMISI INGRAM, IN HIS :
INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITIES, :
Defendants : OCTOBER 2, 2006

ORIGINAL COMPLAINT

I. Nature of the Case

This is a civil action for damages and equitable relief against the Connecticut

Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (hereafter also referred to as “CHRO”) and R.

Hamisi Ingram in his individual and official capacities, for intentional infliction of emotional

distress; tortious interference with contractual relations; and violations of Plaintiff’s rights to due

process of law and equal protection under the law as guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment

and as enforced through 42 U.S.C. §1983, false light invasion of privacy and defamation. This

Court has jurisdiction over this case pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §2000e, et seq., 28 U.S.C. §1331, and

28 U.S.C. §1332. The amount in controversy exceeds $75,000. Venue is proper in the United

States District Court for the District of Connecticut.

JURY TRIAL DEMANDED


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II. Factual Allegations

1. The Plaintiff, Ms. Pekah Wallace (hereafter also referred to as “Ms. Wallace” or

“Plaintiff”), is a resident of Bloomfield, CT. Ms. Wallace was hired by the CHRO as the

Regional Manager for the CHRO’s West Central Regional Office on or about March 22, 2002.

Ms. Wallace is a black female of Jamaican national origin. Ms. Wallace relies on her

employment with CHRO to support her family.

2. The Defendant, CHRO, maintains a principal office at 21 Grand Street, Hartford,

CT 06106. The CHRO is an agency and instrumentality of the State of Connecticut, duly

organized and existing under the laws of the State of Connecticut.

3. The Defendant, R. Hamisi Ingram (hereafter also “Mr. Ingram”), is the Executive

Director of CHRO. Mr. Ingram is sued in his individual and official capacities. At all times

relevant to this Complaint, Mr. Ingram was appointed as Executive Director of the CHRO and

acted under color of state law in that capacity.

4. On her Performance Appraisal for the period from March 22, 2002 to June 2002,

Ms. Wallace received an overall performance rating of “Good”. Specifically, Ms. Wallace was

rated as “Good” in the performance criteria of knowledge of work, quantity of work, ability to

learn new duties, initiative, and judgment. Ms. Wallace was rated as “Excellent” in the

performance criteria of quality of work and cooperation. Donald Newton (hereafter “Mr.

Newton”), CHRO’s Chief of Field Operations, issued this Performance Appraisal.

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5. On her Performance Planning and Appraisal Record for the period from July 1,

2002 to June 30, 2003, Ms. Wallace received a performance rating of “Meets” or “Exceeds”

performance expectations for every performance criteria. Mr. Newton was the CHRO supervisor

that issued this performance appraisal. Specifically, Ms. Wallace received a performance rating

of “Meets All Expectations” for the following performance criteria: (a) Effective management

of regional office to insure that statutory processing timeframes are met; (b) Engaging in

effective communication with administration, staff, and the public including complainants,

respondents, and their representatives; (c) Timely and accurate recording of data in complaint

tracking system; (d) Review of complaints where a reconsideration request has been granted to

reduce and/or eliminate similar errors in the future; (e) Familiarity with and adherence to agency

AA/EEO program goals and objectives as they relate to regional office operations;

(f) Implementation of agency’s attendance policy for regional staff and personal adherence to it;

and (g) Facilitation of transportation for your staff to quarterly meetings and other agency events

when the agency provides transportation. Ms. Wallace received a performance rating of

“Exceeds Expectations” for the performance criteria of: Pursuing no fault conciliation inquiries

at pre-answer stage and actively promoting mediation activities at all stages of the complaint

investigation process. Mr. Newton’s composite rating for Ms. Wallace for the period from July

1, 2002 to June 30, 2003 was “Meets All Expectations.”

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6. On her Performance Planning and Appraisal Record for the period from July 1,

2003 to June 30, 2004, Ms. Wallace received a performance rating of “Meets” or “Exceeds”

performance expectations for every performance criteria. Mr. Newton issued this performance

evaluation on September 27, 2004. Specifically, Ms. Wallace received a performance rating of

“Meets All Expectations” for the following performance criteria: (a) Engaging in effective

communication with administration, staff, and the public including complainants, respondents,

and their representatives; (b) Timely and accurate recording of data in complaint tracking

system; (c) Review of complaints where a reconsideration request has been granted to reduce

and/or eliminate similar errors in the future; (d) Familiarity with and adherence to agency

AA/EEO program goals and objectives as they relate to regional office operations; and

(e) Implementation of agency’s attendance policy for regional staff and personal adherence to it.

Ms. Wallace received a performance rating of “Exceeds Expectations” for the following

performance criteria: (a) Effective management of regional office to insure that statutory

processing timeframes are met; and (b) Pursuing no fault conciliation inquiries at pre-answer

stage and actively promoting mediation activities at all stages of the complaint investigation

process. Mr. Newton’s composite rating for Ms. Wallace for the period from July 1, 2003 to

June 30, 2004 was “Meets All Expectations.”

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7. The composite rating of “Meets All Expectations” signifies that the rated manager

achieved all objectives and job requirements, is competent in all responsibilities of the position,

and requires minimal direction.

8. Ms. Wallace met or exceeded her responsibilities as Regional Manager for

CHRO’s West Central Regional Office from March 22, 2002 to October 31, 2004.

9. While Ms. Wallace was Regional Manager, CHRO’s West Central Regional

Office outperformed CHRO’s other regional offices in terms of monetary recoveries for

complainants.

10. CHRO’s Annual Reports reflect the following results for each CHRO Regional

Office in terms of monetary recoveries for complainants for the time period from July 1, 2002 to

October 31, 2004:

CHRO Capitol South West West Central Eastern SEU


Regional Offices Region Region Region Region Region
FY 2002/03
(7/1/02-6/30/03) $303,712 $106,034 $1,481,163 $102,273 $59,748

FY 2003/04
(7/1/03-6/30/04) $324,231 $511,312 $1,096,386 $50,480 $335,005

7/1/04 – 10/31/04 $349,003 $33,822 $492,314 $35,150 $113,580


Total Monetary
Recoveries for
Complainants $976,946 $651,168 $3,069,863 $187,903 $508,333

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11. While Ms. Wallace was Regional Manager, CHRO’s West Central Regional

Office outperformed CHRO’s other regional offices in terms of number of cases processed,

despite the fact that the West Central Regional Office had fewer investigators than CHRO’s

other Regional Offices.

12. Ms. Wallace established a successful mediation program in the West Central

Office in July 2002 and carried a full mediation caseload while simultaneously performing her

duties as Regional Manager for the West Central Office from July 2002 to October 31, 2004. No

other Regional Manager carried a full mediation caseload in addition to their Regional Manager

duties.

13. As Regional Manager for CHRO’s West Central Regional Office, Ms. Wallace

succeeded in bringing all cases within statutory timeframes, something no other Regional

Manager had been able to accomplish.

14. While Ms. Wallace was Regional Manager for CHRO’s West Central Regional

Office from March 22, 2002 to October 31, 2004, the assigned investigators increased their

productivity and staff professionalism improved. Ms. Wallace held monthly staff meetings for

the purpose of reviewing performance expectations, case issues, operational issues, and to

conduct staff training.

15. In August 2004, R. Hamisi Ingram (black/male) assumed the position of CHRO

Executive Director. As Executive Director, Mr. Ingram acts as CHRO’s agent. Prior to Mr.

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Ingram’s appointment as Executive Director, Raymond Pech (white/male) (hereafter “Mr. Pech”)

had served as Acting Interim Executive Director. Mr. Pech was a candidate for the position of

Executive Director and interviewed for the position. Numerous Caucasian employees at CHRO

took up a petition to have Mr. Pech selected as Executive Director for CHRO. Although Mr.

Pech was not selected for the position of Executive Director, the CHRO Commissioners

instructed Mr. Ingram to appoint Mr. Pech to the position of Deputy Director for CHRO. Mr.

Ingram objected to that instruction.

16. In August 2003, Ms. Wallace counseled an employee for not being at work when

he was supposed to be present. That employee filed a frivolous grievance complaining that Ms.

Wallace had brought his lack of accountability for his work time to his attention. CHRO

permitted an extended investigation into the frivolous claims asserted against Ms. Wallace by

that subordinate to proceed for months. Mr. Pech, then Acting Interim Executive Director,

privately advised Ms. Wallace on March 25, 2004, that he found the grievance to have no merit

and that the investigation process was flawed. Mr. Pech also advised Ms. Wallace that he would

submit a written response to the grievance expressing his conclusion that the grievance had no

merit, but he failed to do so. On June 8, 2004, Ms. Wallace wrote a memo to Mr. Pech and Mr.

Newton in which she objected to the manner in which the grievance investigation was conducted

and their lack of support for her and advised them that she found the grievance investigation

process to have been discriminatory against her.

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17. The employee who filed the grievance against Ms. Wallace later transferred to

CHRO’s Central Office and shortly thereafter became the subject of numerous complaints by

union members that he was rarely at work when he was supposed to be. He was also the subject

of a letter of concern from the Capitol Police advising CHRO that this employee was spending

many hours each day wandering around the State Capitol talking to strangers and generally

acting in an eccentric manner. When finally confronted by CHRO’s Central Office management,

the employee admitted to routinely leaving work without permission.

18. On or about August 16, 2004, Mr. Ingram met with Ms. Wallace in his office for

the first time. Mr. Ingram told Ms. Wallace that he understood that she had a discrimination

complaint against Mr. Pech. Ms. Wallace advised Mr. Ingram that she felt that the grievance

process had been handled in a discriminatory manner. Mr. Ingram told Ms. Wallace that the

Commissioners had ordered him to appoint Mr. Pech as his Deputy Director and that he did not

like being told what to do. Mr. Ingram told Ms. Wallace that he wanted her to file a formal

complaint of race discrimination against Mr. Pech. Mr. Ingram intended to use the complaint

against Mr. Pech.

19. Ms. Wallace was troubled by Mr. Ingram’s request. On August 25, 2004, Ms.

Wallace advised Mr. Ingram that she would not file a formal discrimination complaint against

Mr. Pech, as she did not believe it was warranted. Mr. Ingram became very angry with Ms.

Wallace for refusing to file a formal discrimination complaint against Mr. Pech. Mr. Ingram

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then ordered Ms. Wallace to provide him a copy of her memo of June 8, 2004, in which she had

challenged the grievance investigation process as discriminatory.

20. Marla Shiller (hereafter “Ms. Shiller”) was an investigator assigned to the West

Central Regional Office. Prior to Ms. Wallace’s assignment as Regional Manager, Ms. Shiller

had been assigned very limited duties relating to Merit Assessment of cases, while other limited

number of investigators in the West Central Office struggled with heavy investigative caseloads.

Ms. Wallace assigned Ms. Shiller to perform full case investigations in addition to Merit

Assessment of cases, similar to other investigators in the office. This angered Ms. Shiller. Ms.

Wallace also assigned Ms. Shiller certain additional responsibilities to assist an employee whose

performance was restricted on account of a disability. Ms. Shiller objected to those additional

duties. Ms. Shiller eventually resigned in October 2004 to take a position with another state

agency.

21. Prior to her departure in October 2004, Mr. Ingram called Ms. Shiller to his office

and asked her if she had anything unflattering to say about Ms. Wallace. Ms. Shiller made

numerous false allegations against Ms. Wallace. Mr. Ingram obtained a detailed written

statement from Ms. Shiller to use against Ms. Wallace. It is not a customary practice for

employees departing CHRO to render detailed written statements similar to the one Mr. Ingram

obtained to use against Ms. Wallace.

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22. State of Connecticut Personnel Regulation Section 5-239-1(a)(1) provides that

“Permanent and temporary transfers within an agency may be made with the approval of the

Commissioner of Administrative Services either by the appointing authority for the good of the

service or by request of the employee with the approval of the appointing authority.”

23. On October 15, 2004, Mr. Ingram advised Ms. Wallace of his decision to transfer

Ms. Wallace from her position as Regional Manager for CHRO’s West Central Regional Office.

Mr. Ingram explained to Ms. Wallace that her transfer would be to a managerial position

managing the mediation of complaints for CHRO. Mr. Ingram advised Ms. Wallace that the

effective date of the transfer would be November 1, 2004.

24. After advising Ms. Wallace of her transfer from her position as Regional Manager

for CHRO’s West Central Regional Office, Mr. Ingram asked Ms. Wallace to sign a letter stating

that she was resigning from her position as Regional Manager due to circumstances in the West

Central Office. Ms. Wallace asked Mr. Ingram what circumstances he was referring to. Mr.

Ingram did not respond. Ms. Wallace told Mr. Ingram that she would not sign the resignation

letter he presented. Ms. Wallace advised Mr. Ingram, however, that she would accept a transfer

to a managerial position in charge of mediation for CHRO, but would not resign her title as

CHRO Regional Manager until the managerial mediation position was formally created pursuant

to the applicable Personnel Rules for the State of Connecticut.

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25. The Department of Administrative Services did not give Mr. Ingram approval to

transfer Ms. Wallace from her position as Regional Manager for CHRO’s West Central Regional

Office. Mr. Ingram conferred with the Department of Administrative Services and was aware

that he lacked approval to transfer Ms. Wallace from her position as Regional Manager for

CHRO’s West Central Regional Office, but he did so nonetheless.

26. Mr. Ingram did not disclose Ms. Shiller’s written statement or accusations to Ms.

Wallace or provide Ms. Wallace any opportunity to respond to Ms. Shiller’s accusations prior to

transferring Ms. Wallace from her position as Regional Manager on October 15, 2004.

27. On October 19, 2004, Mr. Ingram falsely notified the CHRO Commissioners in

writing that Ms. Wallace had resigned her Regional Manager title. Mr. Ingram so advised the

CHRO Commissioners regarding the nature of his actions against Ms. Wallace in order to

deceive them.

28. Mr. Ingram was angered by Ms. Wallace’s refusal to relinquish her formal job

title of Regional Manager. Mr. Ingram chided Ms. Wallace by asking her, “What are you the

Regional Manager of?” Mr. Ingram also threatened Ms. Wallace in writing on November 23,

2004, writing to her as follows, “The continued use of a state employment title of which you

have been disposed will be considered both insubordination and fraudulent misrepresentation as

a state official.” Mr. Ingram further prohibited Ms. Wallace from attending managerial meetings

or the managerial retreat.

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29. Despite his promise to create a managerial position for Ms. Wallace in charge of

mediation for CHRO, Mr. Ingram did not do so. Instead, Mr. Ingram assigned Ms. Wallace to

perform the duties of an investigator in CHRO’s Housing Department. Mr. Ingram’s removal of

Ms. Wallace from her position as Regional Manager for CHRO’s West Central Regional Office

and the assignment of duties as an investigator in CHRO’s Housing Department amounted to a

demotion in her duties and responsibilities and caused Ms. Wallace to suffer extreme public

embarrassment, humiliation, and emotional distress.

30. State of Connecticut Personnel Regulation Section 5-240-4a(b) provides that:

“Before a decision is made to demote an employee, the appointing authority shall follow the pre-

discipline procedures, as set forth in these regulations.” The pre-discipline procedures as set

forth in State of Connecticut Personnel Regulation Section 5-240-7a, provide that prior to a

decision to demote an employee, the appointing authority shall provide the employee with oral or

written notice. “The notice shall include what form of action is being considered, shall contain a

concise statement explaining what evidence supports the imposition of the action that is being

considered and shall state a specific time and place for a meeting where the employee will be

given an opportunity to present his side of the story and reasons why the employee feels that the

action being considered should not be taken.” CHRO and Mr. Ingram failed to comply with the

required pre-disciplinary procedures with regard to the decision to demote Ms. Wallace.

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31. State of Connecticut Personnel Regulation Section 5-240-4a(c) provides that:

“Following the decision to demote an employee, the appointing authority shall follow the post-

discipline procedures, as set forth in these regulations.” The post-discipline procedures, as set

forth in State of Connecticut Personnel Regulation Section 5-240-8a, provide that within one

week of a decision by the appointing authority to demote an employee, the appointing authority

shall provide the employee with written notice stating the reasons for the decision and informing

the employee of any right to further review or appeal pursuant to C.G.S. Section 5-202.

Defendants failed to comply with the required post-disciplinary procedures with regard to the

decision to demote Ms. Wallace.

32. Despite Mr. Ingram’s failure to honor his promise to create a managerial position

for Ms. Wallace in charge of mediation, Ms. Wallace performed her assigned duties as an

investigator in CHRO’s Housing Department in an exemplary manner. On August 2, 2005,

Robert Zamlowski, the Manager of CHRO’s Housing Department, issued the following

evaluation of Ms. Wallace’s work: “As supported by the attached quarterly reviews, your

performance of the duties of processing housing complaints was satisfactory or better in all

respects. You have shown yourself to be very organized, exhibiting excellent case management

skills. You have processed cases assigned within acceptable ranges for both quantity and

timeliness. You learn quickly, and your knowledge of the work, including the unique legal and

case processing issues relevant to housing, is good for someone in the unit this length of time.

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Judgment has been reliable and thinking logical. You have shown initiative and a passion for the

work. You have been cooperative with myself and other staff and have not hesitated to seek

guidance when needed or take guidance when offered.”

33. In August 2005, Mr. Ingram attempted again to pressure Mr. Wallace to

relinquish her formal job title as Regional Manager. This time Mr. Ingram ordered Mr. Newton

to retroactively issue Ms. Wallace a poor performance review for the period from July 1, 2004 to

October 31, 2004. The adverse performance review prepared by Mr. Newton contained

unjustified performance criticisms regarding incidents that allegedly occurred during the prior

rating period from July 1, 2003 to June 30, 2004, as to which Mr. Newton had previously rated

Ms. Wallace as meeting all performance expectations.

34. On August 15, 2005, Mr. Newton presented Ms. Wallace with an adverse

performance evaluation for the period from July 1, 2004 to October 31, 2004. Mr. Newton

further advised Ms. Wallace that on the basis of that adverse performance evaluation, she would

forfeit the raise that other managers would be receiving effective July 1, 2005. The adverse

performance evaluation was not justified because Ms. Wallace had successfully performed her

duties as Regional Manager during that period. Further, the adverse performance evaluation for

the period from July 1, 2004 to October 31, 2004 was contradicted by the fully successful

performance evaluation issued by Mr. Newton on September 27, 2004, and described with more

particularity in paragraph 4, above.

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35. At the time that Mr. Newton handed the adverse performance evaluation to Ms.

Wallace on August 15, 2005, he advised her that he would be willing to tear up the adverse

evaluation and throw it away if she would surrender her Regional Manager title and agree to

accept a formal demotion to the position of investigator in CHRO’s Housing Department. Ms.

Wallace advised Mr. Newton that there was no justification for the belated adverse performance

review and refused to surrender her formal title of Regional Manager.

36. Under the State of Connecticut Personnel Rules, Regulations and Procedures,

performance evaluations: should be issued annually, not in four-month increments of time;

should only evaluate performance by the employee during the rating period; and should fairly

and accurately evaluate an employee’s performance during the relevant rating period. By issuing

Ms. Wallace this false and contrived performance evaluation to use as a bargaining lever to force

Ms. Wallace to relinquish her employment title, Mr. Ingram and CHRO violated the Connecticut

Personnel Rules, Regulations and Procedures.

37. On August 17, 2005, Mr. Ingram directed Ms. Wallace to report to his office to

meet with him. Mr. Ingram directed Ms. Wallace’s supervisor in the Housing Department, Mr.

Zamlowski, to attend the meeting. Ms. Wallace and Mr. Zamlowski reported to Mr. Ingram’s

office for the meeting carrying notepads. Mr. Ingram announced, “no notes.” Ms. Wallace

requested permission to take notes and Mr. Ingram responded again, “no notes.” Ms. Wallace

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again requested permission to take notes during the meeting, whereupon Mr. Ingram announced,

“the meeting is over,” and dismissed Ms. Wallace and Mr. Zamlowski.

38. On August 22, 2005, Mr. Ingram scheduled Ms. Wallace for a pre-termination

disciplinary hearing on the basis of the unjustified adverse performance evaluation for the period

from July 1, 2004 to October 31, 2004.

39. Ms. Wallace responded by filing grievances challenging the actions of Mr.

Ingram and CHRO. Ms. Wallace’s grievances were adjudicated by the Connecticut Office of

Labor Relations (“OLR”), which issued a written decision in which OLR found as follows:

“There are multiple state documents of record that establish that while Ms. Wallace was the

Regional Manager of the West Central Region, that Region maintained the highest case load

with proportionately the lowest staffing levels and continuously brought in the highest monetary

settlements on behalf of complainants.” OLR Decision, OLR Case Nos. 3147, 3155, 5/23/06,

Page 2 (attached). OLR concluded that, “the objective and undisputed evidence of record

indicates that the West Central Office performed notably well under Ms. Wallace’s leadership as

Regional Manager and the evidence does not support the Agency’s removal of these duties from

her on or about January, 2005.” OLR Decision, Page 2.

40. During the OLR proceedings, Mr. Newton testified: (a) that he would never have

prepared an adverse performance evaluation for Ms. Wallace in August 2005 covering the time

period from July 1, 2004 to October 31, 2004, had he not been ordered to do so by Mr. Ingram;

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(b) that when he presented the adverse performance review to Ms. Wallace, he offered to tear up

the review and throw it away if she would surrender her formal title as Regional Manager and

accept a formal demotion to investigator in CHRO’s Housing Department; (c) that the adverse

performance review contained criticisms of incidents that occurred prior to July 1, 2004, during a

rating period for which he had issued Ms. Wallace an overall rating of Meets All Expectations;

and (d) that he understood it was not an authorized use of the State performance appraisal

process to prepare an adverse performance evaluation for the purpose of pressuring a State

employee to relinquish her title.

41. OLR ordered CHRO to provide the following relief to Ms. Wallace:

(a) Rescind the unsatisfactory performance review for the period from July 1,

2004 to October 31, 2004 and issue an evaluation of “Meets All

Expectations” for the period from July 1, 2004 to June 30, 2005;

(b) Award Ms. Wallace the retroactive raise that it denied to her retroactive to

FY 2004-2005;

(c) Reinstate Ms. Wallace to her position as Regional Manager of the West

Central Office, allowing her to perform the duties consistent with that title;

and

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(d) Remove from Ms. Wallace’s personnel file any information pertaining to

comments made by employees regarding Ms. Wallace during employee

exit interviews during the period from 2004-2005.

42. Following the Order issued by OLR, Mr. Ingram has continued to retaliate against

and undermine Ms. Wallace in her position as Regional Manager.

43. On information and belief, on repeated occasions from August 2004 to the

present, Mr. Ingram has made disparaging and untrue remarks about Ms. Wallace’s performance

and employment to the CHRO Commissioners during the CHRO Commission meeting

Executive Sessions and outside of CHRO Executive Sessions, while no advance notice was

given to Ms. Wallace that her performance or employment would be discussed. Mr. Ingram

made such disparaging and untrue remarks about Ms. Wallace for the improper purpose of

deceiving and manipulating the CHRO Commissioners to acquiesce in his malicious and

retaliatory actions against Ms. Wallace. The false and disparaging statements by Mr. Ingram to

the Commissioners were to the effect that Ms. Wallace: created disharmony with the employees

that she managed, violated the rights of employees in her region, failed to properly manage her

regional office, and wrongly failed to surrender a chair from her office.

44. Under the Connecticut Freedom of Information Act, C.G.S. §1-200(6), a public

agency must give an employee advance notice if it intends to discuss the employee’s

performance or employment in an Executive Session. Under C.G.S. §1-222(6), an employee

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receiving such notice has the right to require that the discussion of their performance or

employment be held in an open meeting. From August 2004 to the present, CHRO has

repeatedly failed to give Ms. Wallace advance notice when it discussed her performance and

employment in Executive Session.

45. On June 16, 2006, State of Connecticut Auditors found that CHRO violated

Connecticut Personnel Regulations when it transferred Pekah Wallace from her position as

Regional Manager of CHRO’s West Central Regional Office effective November 1, 2004. In his

response to State Auditors, Mr. Ingram, acting on behalf of CHRO, provided the following

written response to the Auditors of Public Accounts, 20 Trinity Street, Hartford, CT 06106:

“CHRO intended to transfer the Regional Manager from her position in Waterbury to another

managerial position in the Central Office. Once the Regional Manager came to the Central

Office, however, she determined that she no longer wanted the intended managerial position. As

noted in the draft audit report, a major reason for the proposed transfer was personnel issues in

the West Central office. We did not wish to exacerbate those issues, and tried for many months

to convince the Regional Manager to reconsider the equivalent position to which she initially

agreed. The commission now realizes that the equivalent position should have been established

and approved by DAS/OPM before the initial offer was made. The matter has now been

reversed and the manager has been returned to the West Central Office.”

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46. After advising Ms. Wallace in October 2004 of her transfer from her position as

Regional Manager for CHRO’s West Central Regional Office, Mr. Ingram asked Ms. Wallace to

sign a letter stating that she was resigning from her position as Regional Manager due to

circumstances in the West Central Office. Ms. Wallace told Mr. Ingram that she would not sign

the resignation letter he presented. Ms. Wallace advised Mr. Ingram, however, that she would

accept a transfer to a managerial position in charge of mediation for CHRO, but would not resign

her title as CHRO Regional Manager until the managerial mediation position was formally

created pursuant to the applicable Personnel Rules for the State of Connecticut. Mr. Ingram

demanded that Ms. Wallace write down her position on the matter and hand it to him, which she

did. Ms. Wallace’s statement to Mr. Ingram provided as follows:

“Pursuant to our discussion this afternoon, I am willing to accept your offer to

become head of the new mediation unit, effective Nov as we agreed, this is a

lateral transfer reporting to Donald Newton, Chief of Field Operations. The

position will be located in the Central Office. And will utilize my expertise in

mediation. I understand you will attempt to provide me additional staffing as the

need arises. This position will assist in carrying out the statutory and policy

requirements to pursue mediation and conciliation at all steps of case processing.”

47. Mr. Ingram’s statement to State Auditors that Ms. Wallace would not accept a

transfer to a mediation manager position upon her transfer to the Central Office in 2004 is false.

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Ms. Wallace was willing to accept a mediation manager position, however no such position

existed.

48. Mr. Ingram’s statement to State Auditors that CHRO “tried for many months to

convince the Regional Manager to reconsider the equivalent position to which she initially

agreed” is false. To the contrary, Ms. Wallace was willing to accept a mediation manager

position. However, no such position existed and Mr. Ingram failed to take the necessary steps to

create the promised mediation manager position.

49. Mr. Ingram’s statement to State Auditors that the “commission now realizes that

the equivalent position should have been established and approved by DAS/OPM before the

initial offer was made” is false. Mr. Ingram communicated with DAS regarding this matter in

October 2004 and has known from the outset that: (1) he lacked authority to transfer Ms.

Wallace from her Regional Manager position; (2) he lacked authority to demote Ms. Wallace to

investigator; and (3) the creation of the mediation manager position required approval from

DAS, which he did not obtain. These matters are not recent discoveries to Mr. Ingram or CHRO.

50. Mr. Ingram’s statement to State Auditors that “a major reason for the proposed

transfer was personnel issues in the West Central office” is false. The major reason for her

removal from her position as regional manager was retaliation by Mr. Ingram against Ms.

Wallace because of her refusal to file a sham discrimination complaint against Mr. Pech that Mr.

Ingram wanted for his own purposes.

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51. Mr. Ingram and CHRO did not subject CHRO’s four other Regional Managers,

who are similarly situated to Ms. Wallace, to the foregoing adverse actions to which Ms. Wallace

was subjected.

52. As a result of the foregoing, Ms. Wallace has suffered substantial damages,

including severe emotional distress and suffering, loss of self-esteem, damage to her professional

reputation and standing, lost interest on the raise that was denied in August 2005, lost

employment benefits, lost work time taken to obtain professional counseling, consequential

damages, attorney’s fees incurred in opposing the Defendants’ retaliatory and malicious actions

and in obtaining reinstatement to her position as Regional Manager of the West Central Regional

Office, attorney fees incurred in defending against ongoing acts of retaliation by Mr. Ingram and

CHRO, and attorney’s fees and costs that Ms. Wallace will continue to incur in pursuing this

action.

III. Causes of Action

COUNT ONE: INTENTIONAL INFLICTION OF EMOTIONAL


DISTRESS AS TO CHRO AND R. HAMISI INGRAM

53. Paragraphs 1 through 52 of this complaint are incorporated by reference as if fully

repeated and realleged herein.

54. The Defendants, CHRO and Mr. Ingram, intended to inflict emotional distress or

knew or should have known that emotional distress would likely result by their conduct.

55. The Defendants’ actions were extreme and outrageous.

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56. As a direct and proximate result of the Defendants’ extreme and outrageous

actions, Ms. Wallace has suffered severe and extreme emotional distress for which she claims

damages.

COUNT TWO: TORTIOUS INTERFERENCE WITH CONTRACTUAL


RELATIONS AS TO R. HAMISI INGRAM

57. Paragraphs 1-56 of this Complaint are incorporated by reference as if fully

repeated and re-alleged herein.

58. Upon information and belief, Mr. Ingram acted out of personal, improper,

malicious, vengeful, and retaliatory motives when he: (a) repeatedly ordered Ms. Wallace to file

a formal complaint of discrimination against Mr. Pech; (b) transferred Ms. Wallace from her

position as Regional Manager for CHRO’s West Central Regional Office; (c) refused to disclose

to Ms. Wallace the reasons behind her transfer from her position as Regional Manager of

CHRO’s West Central Regional Office; (d) demoted Ms. Wallace to the position of Investigator

in CHRO’s Housing Department; (e) refused to follow the pre-disciplinary and post-disciplinary

procedures with regard to his decision to demote Ms. Wallace; (f) falsely reported to the CHRO

Commissioners that Ms. Wallace had resigned her title as Regional Manager; (g) instructed Mr.

Newton to prepare a sham adverse performance review for the period from July 1, 2004 to

October 31, 2004 and to use that sham review to pressure Ms. Wallace to relinquish her Regional

Manager title; (h) wrongfully withheld the raise to which Ms. Wallace was entitled; and (i)

repeatedly made untrue and disparaging remarks about Ms. Wallace to CHRO Commissioners

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during Commission meeting Executive Sessions, without giving Ms. Wallace required notice

that her performance or employment would be discussed, for the purpose of deceiving and

manipulating the CHRO Commissioners to acquiesce in his malicious and retaliatory actions

against Ms. Wallace. In so doing, Mr. Ingram was acting maliciously and with improper

personal, vengeful and retaliatory motive, and acting outside the scope of his official

responsibilities.

59. By so doing, Mr. Ingram tortiously interfered with Ms. Wallace’s contractual

relations with her employer, the CHRO.

60. As a direct and proximate result of Mr. Ingram’s actions, Ms. Wallace has

sustained damages, including emotional distress and suffering, loss of self-esteem, damage to her

professional reputation and standing. Ms. Wallace is entitled to payment for her damages from

Mr. Ingram in his individual capacity, including payment for emotional distress, damage to

reputation, loss of self-esteem and consequential damages.

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COUNT THREE: DENIAL OF EQUAL PROTECTION IN VIOLATION OF


THE FOURTEENTH AMENDMENT TO THE UNITED
STATES CONSTITUTION, 42 U.S.C. §1983 AS TO CHRO
AND R. HAMISI INGRAM

61. The foregoing paragraphs 1-60 are hereby incorporated by reference as if fully

repeated and re-alleged herein.

62. Acting under color of law, Defendants intentionally singled Ms. Wallace out for

adverse treatment that was entirely irrational and wholly arbitrary as compared to other Regional

Managers similarly situated to Ms. Wallace.

63. There is no rational basis for the disparate treatment to which Defendants

subjected Ms. Wallace.

64. Defendants’ conduct denied Ms. Wallace equal protection under the law in

violation of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, as enforced through 42

U.S.C. §1983.

65. The aforesaid actions of the Defendants were malicious, intentional, willful,

wanton and/or in reckless disregard of Ms. Wallace’s rights.

66. As a result of the aforesaid unlawful acts, Ms. Wallace has suffered damages,

including economic losses, mental anguish, emotional distress, humiliation and embarrassment.

67. As a further result of the actions of Defendants, Ms. Wallace has incurred and will

continue to incur attorney’s fees and costs in pursuing this action.

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COUNT FOUR: DENIAL OF DUE PROCESS IN VIOLATION OF THE


FOURTEENTH AMENDMENT TO THE UNITED
STATES CONSTITUTION, 42 U.S.C. §1983 AS TO
CHRO AND R. HAMISI INGRAM

68. The foregoing paragraphs 1-67 are hereby incorporated by reference as if fully

repeated and re-alleged herein.

69. Ms. Wallace had a recognized property interest in her job as CHRO Regional

Manager.

70. Acting under color of law, Defendants denied Ms. Wallace proper notice and a

meaningful opportunity to be heard prior to transferring her from her position as Regional

Manager and demoting Ms. Wallace to the position of Investigator in CHRO’s Housing

Department.

71. Defendants denied Ms. Wallace of her property interest in her Regional Manager

position in CHRO’s West Central Office from November 1, 2004 to July 21, 2006, without

affording her due process of law in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States

Constitution, 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

72. The aforesaid actions of the Defendants were malicious, intentional, willful,

wanton and/or in reckless disregard of Ms. Wallace’s rights.

73. As a result of the aforesaid unlawful acts, Ms. Wallace has suffered damages,

including economic losses, mental anguish, emotional distress, humiliation and embarrassment.

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74. As a further result of the actions of Defendants, Ms. Wallace has incurred and will

continue to incur attorney’s fees and costs in pursuing this action.

COUNT FIVE: DENIAL OF LIBERTY IN VIOLATION OF THE


FOURTEENTH AMENDMENT TO THE UNITED
STATES CONSTITUTION, 42 U.S.C. §1983 AS TO
CHRO AND R. HAMISI INGRAM

75. The foregoing paragraphs 1-74 are hereby incorporated by reference as if fully

repeated and re-alleged herein.

76. In her position as Regional Manager of CHRO’s West Central Office, Ms.

Wallace had substantial professional interaction with representatives of companies, agencies, and

municipalities, attorneys practicing before CHRO, complainants, and CHRO staff and managers.

By transferring Ms. Wallace from her position as Regional Manager and demoting her to the

position of Investigator in CHRO’s Housing Department, Defendants severely damaged Ms.

Wallace’s professional reputation in the community and within CHRO.

77. By repeatedly making untrue and disparaging remarks about Ms. Wallace to

CHRO Commissioners during Commission meeting executive sessions, without giving Ms.

Wallace required notice that her performance would be discussed, for the purpose of deceiving

and manipulating the CHRO Commissioners to acquiesce in his malicious and retaliatory actions

against Ms. Wallace, Defendants severely damaged Ms. Wallace’s professional reputation in the

community and within CHRO.

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78. The aforesaid actions of the Defendants were malicious, intentional, willful,

wanton and/or in reckless disregard of Ms. Wallace’s rights.

79. As a result of the aforesaid unlawful acts, Ms. Wallace has suffered damages,

including economic losses, mental anguish, emotional distress, humiliation and embarrassment.

80. As a further result of the actions of Defendants, Ms. Wallace has incurred and will

continue to incur attorney’s fees and costs in pursuing this action.

COUNT SIX: FALSE LIGHT INVASION OF PRIVACY


AS TO R. HAMISI INGRAM

81. The foregoing paragraphs 1-80 are hereby incorporated by reference as if fully

repeated and re-alleged herein.

82. Mr. Ingram knowingly, intentionally and maliciously publicized false statements

regarding Ms. Wallace to the CHRO Commissioners and to the Auditors of Public Accounts, on

behalf of CHRO, that placed Ms. Wallace in a false light publicly.

83. Mr. Ingram knew that the statements he publicized to the CHRO Commissioners

and to the Auditors of Public Accounts were false or acted with reckless disregard to their falsity.

84. The false statements regarding Ms. Wallace publicized by Mr. Ingram to the

CHRO Commissioners and to the State Auditors of Public Accounts, would be highly offensive

to any reasonable person. Mr. Ingram publicized false statements to the State Auditors of Public

Accounts for the purpose of their inclusion in a highly public audit report.

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85. As a result of the aforesaid unlawful acts, Ms. Wallace has suffered damages,

including harm to her business reputation, economic losses, mental anguish, emotional distress,

humiliation and embarrassment. As a further result of the actions of Defendant, Ms. Wallace has

incurred and will continue to incur attorney’s fees and costs in pursuing this action.

COUNT SEVEN: DEFAMATION AS TO R. HAMISI INGRAM

86. The foregoing paragraphs 1-85 are hereby incorporated by reference as if fully

repeated and re-alleged herein.

87. Mr. Ingram knowingly, intentionally and maliciously publicized false and

defamatory statements, both verbal and written, regarding Ms. Wallace to the CHRO

Commissioners and to the Auditors of Public Accounts, which were harmful and injurious to Ms.

Wallace’s business reputation.

88. Mr. Ingram knew that the statements he publicized regarding Ms. Wallace were

false or acted with reckless disregard to their falsity.

89. The false statements regarding Ms. Wallace publicized by Mr. Ingram to the

CHRO Commissioners and to the State Auditors of Public Accounts, were false statements of

fact, harmful to Ms. Wallace’s professional reputation in the community.

90. As a result of the aforesaid unlawful acts, Ms. Wallace has suffered damages,

including harm to her business reputation, economic losses, mental anguish, emotional distress,

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humiliation and embarrassment. As a further result of the actions of Defendant, Ms. Wallace has

incurred and will continue to incur attorney’s fees and costs in pursuing this action.

IV. Prayer for Relief

WHEREFORE, the Plaintiff respectfully requests that this Court:

a. Award compensatory damages to the Plaintiff;

b. Award punitive damages to the Plaintiff;

c. Restore Plaintiff’s lost wages and payment for lost benefits;

d. Reinstate Plaintiff’s lost leave time;

e. Issue a permanent injunction preventing the Defendants from taking any

further retaliatory action against the Plaintiff;

f. Award attorneys fees and costs to the Plaintiff, including but not limited to

an award of attorneys fees pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1988;

g. Award interest to the Plaintiff;

h. Require Defendants to issue a retraction of the false comments regarding

Plaintiff;

i. Require Defendants to remove any derogatory material from Plaintiff’s

personnel file;

j. Award Plaintiff damages for emotional distress, injury to reputation, loss

of self-esteem and consequential damages;

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k. Allow Plaintiff a jury trial; and

l. Grant the Plaintiff any other and further relief, as the Court deems

appropriate.

PLAINTIFF,
PEKAH WALLACE

By:
Miguel A. Escalera Jr., ct07252
Kainen, Escalera & McHale, P.C.
21 Oak Street, Suite 601
Hartford, CT 06106
Tel.: (860) 493-0870
Fax: (860) 493-0871
Email: mescalera@kemlaw.com
23798

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