On January 18, 2019, Sherry Chen and her attorneys Michele Young and Peter Toren filed a federal lawsuit against the U.S. government under the Federal Tort Claims Act for the malicious prosecution and false arrest of Sherry Chen in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio. On September 23, 2019, Sherry Chen and her legal team amended the complaint to include violations of constitutional rights.
MSPB Cross Appeals
On April 23, 2018, Chief Administrative Judge Michele Szary Schroeder of the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) ruled that Sherry Chen was a victim of "gross injustice." The Department of Commerce did not have cause to fire Sherry and was ordered to reinstate Sherry Chen to her job in the National Weather Service with backpay and benefits.
Despite Congressional and community calls for the Department of Commerce to implement the MSPB judge's decision, DOC filed an appeal in June. In response, Steve Simon, Sherry Chen's legal counsel, filed a cross appeal. The filings were completed on August 27, 2018. They are now pending review and final decision by the Merit Systems Protection Board members.
Inspector General Investigations
On May 23, 2018, the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) sent a letter to the Department of Commerce Inspector General and called for a full and independent investigation of the treatment and handling of the Sherry Chen case to determine if corrective actions need to be taken across the Department of Commerce.
On June 5, 2018, The Sherry Chen Legal Defense Fund sent a letter to Inspector General Peggy E. Gustafson informing her about a whistleblower letter that alleges abuse of authority and targeting of Sherry Chen and individuals of Asian ancestry in the Department of Commerce. The Fund also requests the IG to add an area of investigation about the economy and efficiency of the adverse actions taken by DOC against Sherry Chen to the original request made by the Congressional Asian American Pacific Caucus (CAPAC).
On August 15, 2018, The Fund turned the whistleblower letter over to the IG Office. The Fund's cover letter explains the need to protect the whistleblower, ensure integrity of the process, and preserve evidence. In addition, the Fund requests the IG to provide its intake process and standard operating procedures that would include, but are not limited to, third-party oversight, basic steps and potential timetable, and reports of progress and findings. The Fund requests that all reports shall be made public.
On February 21, 2020, the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) published a comprehensive investigative report, revealing the ineptitude of the IG Office at the Department of Commerce. According to the POGO report, the IG office is plagued by mismanagement, misconduct, and low productivity. There are now grave concerns that the DOC/IG office is corrupt and has seriously harmed not only Sherry Chen, but also the whistleblower and many Asian American employees in DOC.
FOIA Requests and Appeals
The Sherry Chen Legal Defense Fund has filed the following FOIA request and appeals with the Department of Commerce. The request is classified as Simple. Standard response time to a FOIA request or appeal is 20 work days.
Online Tracking: http://bit.ly/2MepqL6
On May 31, 2018, the Sherry Chen Legal Defense Fund filed a FOIA request for NOAA to provide documents that the OPM Merit Staffing and related requirements were met in the filling of the vacancy of Director of Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in 2014. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have knowledge about the situation. It is currently listed in the Assignment phase under FOIAonline.gov.
Part of FOIA Request DOC-NOAA-2018-001465 was a full waiver of potential fees pursuant to 5 CFR 1204.12. DOC rejected the request on June 18, 2018. The Sherry Chen Legal Defense Fund filed for an appeal on June 26, 2018. It is currently listed in the Assignment phase.
The FOIA request DOC-NOAA-2018-001465 and FOIA appeal DOC-OS-2018-001595 have both exceeded their statutory requirement of 20 days for response. Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(6)(A)(ii), The Sherry Chen Legal Defense Fund filed an appeal for an explanation on November 19, 2018. This request was closed by the Department of Commerce on July 15, 2019.
MSPB FOIA Request
The Sherry Chen Legal Defense Fund also filed a FOIA request (MSPB-2017-000130) with the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) on May 11, 2017. The request is classified as Complex.
The first interim release of the MSPB decision was made on April 30, 2018. The second interim release of the transcripts for the MSPB hearings on March 14, 15 and 28 was made on September 18, 2019.