(WASHINGTON) – The American Federation of Government Employees Local 2741, the union representing workers at the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreations (DPR), filed a lawsuit today against D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty, claiming that the government of the District of Columbia violated workers’ due process and civil rights under 42 USC § 1983.
The lawsuit also seeks declaratory and injunctive relief, along with monetary damages, based on the District's misuse of public funds and failure to comply with both federal and District of Columbia law.
Earlier this summer, DPR management moved to eliminate the agency’s child care services division, known as the Office of Educational Services. DPR representatives claimed that it was due to a $4 million deficit. However, DPR’s declaration was directly contrary to District law; as illustrated by a statement provided by the Budget Director of the D.C. City Council who stated that there were sufficient funds in the Office of the State Superintendent of Education budget to provide for the program.
According to the D.C. Council Budget Director, “In June 2009, an emergency and temporary legislation was passed stating that Mayor Fenty shall withdraw all requests for offers and not issue future requests for child care services until the Executive Branch analyzed the reports on DPR day care employees.” Bill 18-275, the ‘Day Care Facility Emergency Act of 2009,’ passed by a 13-0 vote and expressly prohibited the D.C. Executive Branch from issuing bids to contract out daycare services offered by DPR, such as the services offered through the Office of Educational Services.
“This lawsuit raises very serious legal allegations regarding public accountability, public appropriations and workers’ rights,” said Donald Temple, the attorney representing Local 2741. The lawsuit brings to a head the growing legal tension between the District’s legislative and executive branches, and seeks to show that the civil and due process rights of the Districts’ workers may not be discarded based merely on the Mayor’s whims.