BBG and Director of VOA Persian are sued for Retaliation and Violation of Right to Freedom of Speech
May 9, 2016
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Two former VOA Persian independent contractors filed suit today against Ms. Setareh Derakhshesh Sieg, Director of VOA Persian, personally and the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) over the violation of their right to freedom of speech. The BBG is an independent federal agency that oversees all US government-supported, civilian international broadcasting. VOA Persian is BBG's Persian language service.
Plaintiffs, Mr. Ardavan Roozbeh and Ms. Soheila Jangjoo, filed a complaint in the US District Court for the District of Columbia alleging that Ms. Sieg and the Agency deliberately and maliciously punished Plaintiffs for exercising their First Amendment right to freedom of speech without due process. Defendants used their authority to retaliate against Plaintiffs for voicing their opinion regarding the rampant internal corruption and abuse of authority that plagues VOA Persian under Ms. Sieg's direction. Instead of addressing Plaintiffs' grievances Ms. Sieg and BBG suppressed and retaliated against Plaintiffs by effectively terminating their employment contracts.
This suit comes in the aftermath of a series of complaints against the Agency and VOA Persian for discriminatory and prohibited personnel practices. In the past few months, VOA Persian has faced public criticism for its poor programming and mismanagement. A recent report by the Office of Personnel Management corroborates the allegations of mismanagement and abuse of authority at VOA Persian. According to this report, 60.3% of VOA Persian employees believe that arbitrary action, personal favoritism and coercion for partisan political purposes are tolerated at VOA Persian. While the majority believes that there is widespread corruption at VOA Persian, only 26.8% of the employees feel confident that they can disclose such violations of laws, rules or regulations without fear of retaliation. Plaintiffs' lawsuit aims to directly challenge such retaliatory practices and the culture of immunity for VOA Persian's managers.
The abuse of authority at VOA Persian and the infringement of Plaintiffs' constitutional rights is a matter of public concern as VOA Persian is a federally funded program. It is essential to end corrupt practices, and hold accountable the individuals who abuse their federal employee status and hide behind the shield of authority. Taxpayer dollars should not be used to violate individuals' civil rights and civil liberties.
Plaintiffs are represented by law firm of Herischi & Associates, LLC, a boutique labor & employment and immigration firm located in Bethesda, Maryland.
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It is not uncommon for parties to a contract to reach a point in which they dispute the terms or effect of the contract. Rather than pursuing expensive and time-consuming litigation, the parties may agree to contract mediation in Bethesda Maryland. While there are times when contract mediation in Bethesda Maryland may not be the best solution, there are also instances when it can achieve the desired results.
You Want to Maintain a Relationship
Contract mediation is most effective when both parties have mutual respect toward each other and want to preserve their business relationship. Even if they decide to let the current deal go, they may want to work together in the future. It is difficult for parties at war in litigation to preserve a positive relationship. However, contract mediation is premised on the idea that the parties cooperate to reach a solution with which they are both satisfied. The end result of many mediation sessions is that the parties shake hands and walk away still having respect for that person.
You Want to Keep the Deal
Another instance when contract mediation is a good alternative is when the parties want to keep the deal. They may need to make some slight modifications, but they may just need a neutral person to help facilitate communication. Even if the judge ultimately orders a party to perform obligations under the contract, this is usually after months or even years of litigating the case. In mediation, the parties can create their own solution and get back to work on the contract.
Every day, businesses make important deals that are worth thousands and millions of dollars. However, if the parties experience a dispute, they may be in need of a business litigation attorney in Bethesda Maryland. Before the case becomes too heated, here are a few questions to ask of your prospective business litigation attorney in Bethesda Maryland.
How much will it cost?
It is important that you have a firm understanding of the expense related to pursuing a case and having a lawyer represent you. This information is often included in a retainer agreement. However, during your initial consultation, be sure that you have a solid understanding of the amount you will be charged and the method of paying these charges. Be sure that you understand the difference between legal fees and legal costs and your responsibility toward paying them.
Are there alternatives to litigation?
A litigation attorney can advise you if there are any available alternatives to litigation. These alternatives can sometimes save you time and money. Discuss the possibility of mediating, arbitrating or pursuing other forms of alternative dispute resolution with your attorney.
What experience do you have?
If you are truly considering pursuing litigation, it is important that you have a business attorney with experience in litigating cases. While many cases do settle well before a trial date, it is important that you have an attorney who can take your case from start to finish if necessary.
Every day, your family law attorney in Bethesda Maryland uses technology, from checking work emails to filing information electronically with the court system. However, a family law attorney in Bethesda Maryland may advise you to protect your legal interests during a divorce or family law dispute by avoiding certain technology.
In many cases, the information that a party posts online has come back to haunt him or her. This may include information about a new love interest, information about the case or other information that may paint the party in a bad light. Although you can certainly ask friends to avoid tagging you in pictures or posting sensitive information online, the best way to avoid this problem is to restrict your privacy settings and refrain from posting any personal information while your case is pending.
Turn off any mobile apps, vehicle GPS or any other type of technology that may allow the other party to track your movements. Ensure that any pictures you post do not contain GPS identifying information. This is especially important in cases involving domestic violence. However, a covert GPS device may be installed on vehicles by other parties in order to try to use your location against you in court.
Email and Text Messages
Be careful about what you email and text to the other party. This information may be used out of context or appear very negative once it is revealed in court. Simply hitting the delete button will not erase the text message or email entirely.
If you are embroiled in a divorce, there is certain information that you should gather and provide to your family law attorney in Montgomery County Maryland. Gathering certain documents together can help give your family law attorney in Montgomery County Maryland the information that he or she needs in order to properly advise you about property division and support issues.
Begin by creating a list of tangible personal property that you own. Make a simple inventory that encompasses the type of property that you have, whether it was acquired during the marriage, owned before the marriage or was received as an inheritance or gift and the estimated value of each item. If you have documentation that substantiates the value of certain property, keep these documents together with the inventory. Complete a similar process for larger property items, including vehicles and real property. Also, include any documentation for liens or other encumbrances on the property.
For all financial accounts, gather the most recent statements. Also, gather tax returns for the last three years to uncover accounts that you may not be aware of and to show the respective income of you and your spouse. Include recent pay stubs if income has changed since the last tax return. Also, write down a budget that includes all expenses and debts to assist with the appropriate calculation for support payments.
While not all of this information may be presented in court, it can help provide your lawyer with greater clarity. This can help save you time and money during the process of your divorce.
Litigation is not for everyone. It is time-consuming and expensive. It also almost inevitably pits parties against each other. If the other party breached the contract, you may consider contract mediation in Montgomery County Maryland as an alternative to litigation. Contract mediation in Montgomery County Maryland may be able to help preserve the contract and the parties’ relationship.
A dispute may arise when one of the parties materially breaches the contract by failing to fulfill the contract. A material breach may occur when a payment is not made or when one of the parties does not perform a service that he or she promised to perform. When this occurs, the other party may feel betrayed and disrespected. It is important during the course of mediation to acknowledge the negative feelings that arose because of a material breach. However, it is also important for the party that breached to explain why the breach occurred. This could have been because of a misunderstanding, an emergency situation or circumstances out of his or her control.
The mediator’s job is to help facilitate communication between the parties. Once the parties are in a more amicable space, the mediator may be able to get the parties to think about possible solutions to the problem. In some cases, the contract may be cancelled with a monetary payment provided to the non-breaching party. However, in many mediation cases, a positive result may be that the contract is continued and the original or new terms are fulfilled.
In a litigious society, a business litigation attorney in Bethesda Maryland can explain that the likelihood of being sued as a business owner is high. Nearly any individual that you deal with on a routine basis can become an adversary in a legal dispute, including former employees, customers or fellow business owners. By taking these actions suggested by a business litigation attorney in Bethesda Maryland, you may be able to make a difference in the outcome of the lawsuit.
Carefully Review the Complaint
Read the basis of the legal complaint carefully and objectively. Try not to let your emotions get involved. Make a copy of the complaint and mark important information, including the names of every party being sued, the name of the plaintiff, the nature of the claim and the type of damages that are being requested.
Gather Relevant Documents
Get together as much information as you can as quickly as you can. This information will be critical to a lawyer understanding the nature of the claim and any legal basis for it. Make copies of contracts, sales receipts, employee statements or any other information that may help the lawyer.
Contact a Lawyer
If you simply ignore the lawsuit against you, you may lose by default. You only have a limited time to provide an answer to the complaint. Contact a lawyer immediately after receiving notice of the lawsuit so that he or she can file the necessary paperwork with the court to protect your legal rights. He or she can also discuss a strategic defense plan that you can employ against the lawsuit.
A business litigation attorney in Montgomery County Maryland is someone who focuses his or her practice on commercial litigation cases. While general practice lawyers or transactional lawyers may assist your business with routine matters, a business litigation attorney in Montgomery County Maryland is someone who anticipates litigation and how to protect your business interests during the process.
Having a business litigation attorney on your legal team can help you address important issues that arise in the course of business without interrupting your continued operations. They may handle a variety of cases, including compliance issues, breach of contract matters and mergers and acquisitions. A business litigation attorney looks out for the best interests of the business. He or she can provide timely advice about the legal matters that you encounter.
However, not all situations call for business litigation. Sometimes, litigation is associated with too many risks. It is often expensive and time-consuming. A business litigation attorney can assess a legal situation and provide an objective opinion about the pros and cons of litigation. He or she can also make you aware of the potential risks your business faces if the result is not favorable. By having this discussion, you can learn about whether it is in your business’ best interests to pursue litigation or if an alternative such as mediation would better serve your company.
Now that the United States Supreme Court has ruled that gay marriage must be allowed in every state, same-sex couples may wish to discuss issues that they may encounter with a family law attorney in Bethesda Maryland. A family law attorney in Bethesda Maryland can recommend steps that individuals can take to protect themselves in ways that opposite-sex have used for years. Additionally, he or she can discuss legal issues that are unique to this segment of the population.
For example, a family law attorney may recommend using a prenuptial agreement for most couples. These may be even more important for same-sex couples who may have waited longer and amassed a larger amount of separate property while they were being denied the right to marry.
Another issue that a family law attorney may discuss is home ownership. For years, same-sex couples who lived in states that did not recognize gay marriage had to go about owning a home together in a creative manner. With multiple Supreme Court rulings, property rights will now pass onto the same-sex spouse. Additionally, same-sex couples may wish to take advantage of using tenants by the entirety status as part of their home ownership strategy. This type of information may also be included in a prenuptial agreement.
Although same-sex couples may not want to think about divorce when they just received the official right to marry, same-sex divorce may have different results. For example, if a child is only biologically attached to one parent, a family law attorney can explain if this will create certain implications in divorce and child custody.
When two or more parties enter into a contract, they do so with the understanding that each party will fulfill its obligations under the contract. However, a dispute may arise when contract terms are unclear or when the relationship between the parties begins to deteriorate. A lawyer who focuses on contract mediation in Bethesda Maryland can explain that litigating the case in court can be timely and expensive, making all of the negotiations that came before the contract seem like a complete waste of time. However, contract mediation in Bethesda Maryland provides a practical and affordable alternative.
In many situations, having to go back and start the contract process over is time-consuming and more expensive for both parties. For example, if the contract mediation case is pertaining to a contractor building a piece of commercial property, stopping in the middle of the project may result in further delays and having to re-price subcontractors. Another contractor may not be willing to accept the remainder of the job for the same price as the parties originally agreed on.
Contract mediation can help two parties reach a decision that benefits them both. For example, a contract may be slightly modified to provide for a higher price point if overages occurred. Agreeing to extend the deadline for completing the contract can also serve as an alternative. Mediation helps the parties align their interests and provides them with workable solutions, often saving them time, money and energy.
Non-compete agreements are meant to help Maryland businesses protect their business interests by prohibiting their employees from becoming their competition. However, a business litigation attorney in Bethesda Maryland can explain that such agreements are often struck down because they instead become an unreasonable restraint on trade. If you signed a non-compete agreement with your former employer who is now threatening to sue you, a business litigation attorney in Bethesda Maryland may be able to help.
Under Maryland’s common law, non-compete agreements can be enforced if they are supported by adequate consideration, meaning that something is given in return for signing them. Furthermore, the restraints regarding geography and how long these agreements will endure must be considered reasonable, which is determined on a case-by-case basis. Additionally, the agreement must not be against public policy and must not impose undue hardship on the employee.
The last requirement is where a lot of employer cases fall apart. Maryland courts realize that non-compete agreements run the risk of keeping a person unemployed or not being able to tap into his or her skillset to further his or her financial standing. For this reason, Maryland courts tend not to enforce non-compete agreements unless there is a significant business interest that they are trying to protect, such as trade secrets or to prevent misuse of an employer’s customer relationships, sales routes or client lists. A business litigation attorney may be able to review a non-compete agreement and determine whether it is likely to be enforced.