BBG and Director of VOA Persian are sued for Retaliation and Violation of Right to Freedom of Speech

Setareh Derakhsesh Sieg is sued personally

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.

For more information contact 301-363-4540 or email us at

Ali Herischi, Esq.

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Voice of America Persian Service Labor and Employment Issues

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Law firm of Herischi & Associates is bringing a law suit against Broadcasting Board of Governors for misclassification of its Personal Service Providers as contractors. The Federal law prohibits BBG/VOA/PNN to hire limited number of Personal Service Providers for limited period of time, however BGG has violated the Congress authorization. As the consequence, if you have been a contractor any time in last six years and worked fore more than a year you may be qualified to be classified as a government employee and received the benefits BBG failed to provided to you. You may be entitled to receive higher wages, health insurance, paid leave, over time, and etc.

If you answer yes to the following questions, you may have a case to receive compensations:

• Have you worked for BBG/VOA/PNN within the last six years?
• Were you classified as an independent contractor?
• Were you required to work at BBG/VOA/PNN headquarters?
• Did BBG/VOA/PNN provide you with work space and equipment?
• Were you supervised by a federal employee?
• Have you provided services in furtherance of BBG/VOA/PNN Persian's broadcasting goals?
• Have you provided services that were substantially similar to those performed by federal employees?

You have limited time to join our lawsuit. The first deadline is February 19, 2016. Please contact us for free consultation. We will review your employment history and other relevant facts, thereafter we provide you with complete analysis of your case. Then you may decide to join our law suite for your claim.

You may call us and discuss your other issues with your employer as well.

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