A veteran Department of Homeland Security officer with the agency's Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) unit claims that nepotism and illegal, pro-Asian hiring practices at the agency's Laguna Niguel operation cheated her out of promotions.
Foothill Ranch resident Tatiana Abdel-Jabbar filed an Oct. 23 federal lawsuit against Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Charles Johnson for allegedly allowing less qualified candidates to take jobs over more capable African Americans and Caucasians.
"The first job candidates to be hired are from Asian decent [sic], regardless of their education, experience, knowledge, and lack of spoken or written English," Abdel-Jabbar wrote in the complaint filed inside Orange County's Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse. "USCIS has a long tradition of nepotism and favoritism."
According to Abdel-Jabbar, "the majority of employees and supervisors [in Laguna Niguel] are from Asian decent [sic]."
She claims that resumes submitted by Asian applicants who have family members already working at the agency are either not reviewed in a competitive fashion or contain fraudulent educational achievements and work experience.
"Very few at [in Laguna Niguel] are white, and new white hired employees are less and less," the lawsuit asserts. "When [the agency director at the field office] was asked why no white employees are hired or promoted, [she] stated that based on the demographics, the Asians are [predominantly] present in the surrounding area."
The U.S. Census Bureau reports Asians comprise 19 percent of Orange County's population.
Abdel-Jabbar, who has worked at CIS since 2008 and is representing herself in court, also says the agency violates federal employment laws by favoring "young males" and tolerating discriminating based on her "permanent," work-caused disability: "stress and anxiety."
She is hoping a federal judge will order her promotion and hand her back pay.
In July, a U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission investigation found no basis for Abdel-Jabbar's claims, noting that during a 2012 job opening she scored a 17.5 out of a possible 30 points, while other candidates scored between 19.5 to 28.5.
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"After a careful review of the record and contentions on appeal, the Commission finds that complainant failed to rebut the agency's articulated legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons for the selection decision," the ruling stated. "Additionally, complainant failed to show that her qualifications were plainly superior to the selectee's qualifications."
A hearing has not yet been scheduled in the dispute.