AALDEF joins community groups demanding justice for Sherry Chen
Thursday, Jun 21, 2018
The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) joined the Committee of 100 (C100), United Chinese Americans (UCA), the Ohio Chinese American Association (OCAA), and eight other community groups, to demand justice for civil servant Sherry Chen. These organizations express concern over the Department of Commerce's June 18, 2018 petition for review following Sherry's victory in her quest to be restored to her job.
An award winning hydrologist at the National Weather Service (NWS), Sherry was falsely accused of espionage in 2014, only to have all charges dropped prior to trial in 2015. In 2016, she was fired from her job by the Department of Commerce. A Chinese American naturalized citizen, Sherry appealed her firing to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) and won. In the April 23, 2018 MSPB decision, the Chief Administrative Judge Michele Schroeder ruled that the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) did not have cause to fire Sherry Chen, a "victim of gross injustice," and that DOC top officials ignored or manipulated exculpatory evidence regarding Sherry's conduct. The decision is extraordinary because employees win only a small percentage of these claims, and rarely benefit from such strong fact findings in their favor. Judge Schroeder ordered the NWS to restore Sherry's position and provide back pay and benefits. Instead, the Commerce Department appealed the MSPB decision on June 18, 2018.
Steve Simon, Sherry Chen's attorney noted, "In their appeal brief, the Department of Commerce has recycled arguments that Judge Schroeder rejected and, worse yet, ignored once again exculpatory evidence presented at the hearing that the agency buried during the criminal and disciplinary investigations preceding Sherry's arrest and termination."
Community groups are especially concerned that justice delayed will be justice denied for Sherry. The MSPB appeals board has a significant backlog and has a vacancy that will prevent it from proceeding with its work. "Yesterday's decision by the Commerce Department to appeal rather than comply with the MSPB decision further delays justice for Sherry Chen," said Haipei Shue, President of United Chinese Americans. "We greatly regret that the DOC could not abide by the rulings of their own Merit Systems Protection Board."
"All Sherry wants is to return to the job she loves," said Vincent Wang, Chairman of the Ohio Chinese American Association. "She is a loyal American and has been unfairly targeted from day one due to her country of origin."
"The Commerce Department is clearly embarrassed by the publicity of its scandalous activities," noted Jeremy Wu, Trustee of the Sherry Chen Legal Defense Fund. "By appealing the MSPB decision, the Department further shows its blindness to the truth and innocence of Sherry Chen and risks additional scrutiny of its prohibited practices and loss of public trust." Wu added, "Supporters for Sherry Chen, including her colleagues in the National Weather Service, will redouble their commitment and have faith that justice and fairness for Sherry Chen shall prevail and those who abuse and misuse authority shall eventually be held accountable."
Earlier on May 23, 2018, C100, United Chinese Americans and the Ohio Chinese American Association had organized a press conference on Capitol Hill along with members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), including Chair Rep. Judy Chu, and Representatives Ted Lieu, Grace Meng, and Raja Krishnamoorthi, to draw attention to Sherry's wrongful termination case and to issue a letter signed by 31 members of Congress requesting the Commerce Inspector General conduct an independent investigation into the mishandling of Sherry Chen's case. More than 130 Asian American community organizations supported the press conference.
"The Committee of 100 has long led in advocating for the fair and equal treatment of Chinese Americans in American society," said Frank H. Wu, President of C100. "In Sherry's case, the community is solidly behind her. It is important for us to stand up and speak out against injustice."
The full list of organizations who have joined in the above statement is as follows:
Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF)
Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Los Angeles
Asian Pacific American Justice Task Force
Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA)
Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs Association (APAPA)
Chinese American Citizens Alliance (C.A.C.A.)
Committee of 100 (C100)
Japanese American Citizens League (JACL)
OCA - Asian Pacific American Advocates
Ohio Chinese American Association (OCAA)
United Chinese Americans (UCA)