NASA Racial Discrimination Class Action Lawsuit Moves Forward

October 8, 2022

by M&S Staff

NASA Racial Discrimination Class Action Lawsuit Moves Forward, EEOC Certifies Classes of Black And Asian American Employees

Plaintiffs allege racial bias in performance appraisal ratings,
2,000+ employees in implicated classes

Washington, DC (October 4, 2022) — Last Friday, a racial discrimination class action lawsuit against NASA made one giant leap forward when the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) granted class certification to impacted employees. The plaintiffs allege that NASA discriminated against its Black and Asian American employees in salary grades 13-15 (generally professionals and middle-level managers), giving them much lower performance appraisal ratings on average than white peers across all of NASA’s centers.

Performance review data obtained by the plaintiffs and analyzed by experts show the racial rating disparities are statistically significant, meaning it’s extremely unlikely the racial gaps happened by chance.

“Any time we see a significant racial gap in employee evaluations, that’s a massive red flag and indicates that racial bias — intentional or not — is likely at play,” said Michael Lieder of Mehri & Skalet PLLC, an attorney representing the plaintiffs. “Flaws in NASA’s employee evaluation system have potentially caused over 2,000 Black and Asian American NASA employees to experience racial discrimination impacting evaluations, pay, promotions, and more, and NASA must rectify that. As this complaint moves forward, we expect to hear from even more current and former employees whose evaluations may have been impacted by racial bias.”

The complaint was filed in 2013 with the EEOC under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and encompasses claims beginning in 2008. The EEOC finally granted class certification on September 30, 2022, to two classes: all African American employees in General Schedule grades 13-15 who received less than a “Distinguished” rating on their annual performance since October 2012, and all Asian American employees fitting the same criteria since January 2013. Class members’ claims reach back to 2008.

NASA has until November 10 to appeal the decision. The decision can be read here.

The plaintiffs are represented by Cyrus Mehri, Michael Lieder, and Ezra Bronstein of Mehri & Skalet, PLLC and Jessie Weber, Anisha Queen, and Sharon Krevor-Weisbaum of Brown, Goldstein & Levy, LLP.