Federal judge finds former prosecutor was not victim of retaliation

Related disability discrimination claim remains to be decided by a jury

Published: December 12 2013 | 3:22 pm - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 12:47 am in
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A federal judge Thursday found the nationís youngest federal judge did not discriminate against a former assistant U.S. attorney while serving as top prosecutor in the Northern District of Iowa.

A federal jury also returned a separate finding that former prosecutor Martha Fagg was not discriminated against because of disabilities.

Senior U.S. District Judge Richard Kopf found Martha Fagg was not the victim of retaliation for opposing age discrimination, federal online court records show.

The Thursday ruling said all the actions former prosecutor Stephanie Rose, now a federal judge, took against Fagg were taken with the approval or recommendation of the General Counsel's staff of the Executive Office for United States, court documents show. In the ruling, Kopf said some of the disciplinary measures taken against Fagg were could be construed as "overkill," while others were more "serious and substantive," but that all measures were based on fact.

"Rose and Baumann were 'by-the-book' managers. At times, and in my opinion, their efforts to bring oversight and discipline to the Civil Division, and Fagg in particular, were overly zealous and harsh," Kopf said in the ruling.

Kopf also said he believed Fagg did not think her supervisors - Rose and Baumann - knew enough about the civil practice in the Northern District, where she worked, and that Fagg was openly disrespectful to Rose and Baumann, court records show.

He said the dispute between the three lawyers was a "clash of cultures."

"It involved three good people, each of whom were very competent lawyers," Kopf said. "...They were all credible. However, Rose and Fagg are unrepentant 'hard heads.'"

Fagg had claimed Rose created a hostile work environment after she wrote a memo expressing concern Rose may have committed age discrimination while making personnel decisions and assignments shortly after she took office in Dec. 2009. Her complaint - filed in March 2012 - said Rose and her top assistant held Fagg to a higher level of scrutiny, took her off significant case work, removed her legal assistant, and transferred her to another office without reimbursing her for the expense after she raised her concerns.

Fagg also said she suffered from stress, anxiety and other health problems during that period of time.

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