Labor & Employment

DC Circuit Dismisses 'Pants Suit' Ex-Judge's Job-Loss Appeal

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A former Washington, D.C., administrative law judge who lost that job after unsuccessfully suing a dry cleaners for millions over a lost pair of pants has now had his lawsuit protesting his firing dismissed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Pearson, who brought the case pro se, never got his day in court before the D.C. Circuit, the Blog of Legal Times reports. The panel canceled oral argument, basing its ruling on the briefs.

Pearson contended in the suit that he was denied reappointment to his position in late 2007 because he complained about the D.C. Office of Administrative Hearings’ peer review system.

But the panel upheld the district court’s conclusion that Pearson’s public testimony and private communications to the D.C. Council was not protected speech, citing a D.C. Circuit ruling last year that public employees who report conduct interfering with job responsibilities do so without First Amendment protection.

The panel also says Pearson’s lawsuit against the dry cleaners, which he filed some six months before his termination, was also not protected speech.

“That suit did not involve a matter of public concern; as the district court stated, it was more properly ‘characterized as a personal vendetta against a dry cleaners over a pair of pants,’ ” the appeals court wrote.

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