When she reported to work after being transferred to another office, Martha Fagg was under orders not to leave work for the day before 5 p.m.
Yet, a federal attorney said Monday, Fagg left at 4:30 p.m. on the first two days of her reassignment from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Sioux City to the Cedar Rapids office.
Jim Kuhn, a U.S. Department of Justice Department attorney from Chicago, showed Fagg emails confirming her early departures. It was well-established policy that U.S. attorneys in the Northern District of Iowa were expected to be in their offices until 5 p.m. unless they had prior approval, which Fagg did not have.
“So even though you’re under leave restriction, you’re still leaving early?” Kuhn asked Fagg.
“I had to take care of my dogs,” Fagg said.
Fagg has alleged in U.S. District Court in Sioux City that then-U.S. Attorney Stephanie Rose discriminated against her because of her mental and physical conditions. She also claims Rose, 40, discriminated against older employees.
Rose, who is now a federal judge in Des Moines, testified last week that she and First Assistant U.S. Attorney Teresa Baumann had taken several disciplinary measures against Fagg because of attendance, performance and conduct issues.
During nearly five hours of cross-examination, Kuhn questioned Fagg about her attendance, conduct toward Baumann and Rose and failure to follow Justice Department procedure.
Kuhn brought up instances in which Fagg allegedly told Baumann, “Forget it. It’s like talking to a rock,” and, “Grow up and act like an adult.”
Fagg said she made those statements while under stress because she was being forced to sell her home and move to Cedar Rapids.
“I am embarrassed and humiliated with the way I acted sometimes,” Fagg said.
Sioux City psychiatrist Kunal Patra testified that he diagnosed Fagg with depression and anxiety disorders after he began seeing her in October 2010.
Patra said Fagg asked him to recommend to Rose and Baumann that she not be transferred to Cedar Rapids. Patra said he could not justify it because she was functioning well enough to work.
Fagg’s personal physician and a counselor she was seeing in addition to Patra both had recommended that she not be transferred because it would be detrimental to her mental and physical health.
Fagg was placed on paid administrative leave five days after her transfer in January 2011 and fired six months later.
“I didn’t just lose my job, I lost my life, my family, my friends. I lost my home, my self-esteem, my pride. I lost everything,” Fagg said. “I really felt dead. I died while living my life. I’m not the same person. I don’t think I ever will be.”