Spare Change Newspaper

- By H. J. Pound, MPH

In 1998 Yong Li, a Chinese native, left her successful post in England and moved to Massachusetts, where she and husband were recruited to work at the Marlborough branch of Raytheon Air Traffic Control Division*. Li was hired as a senior software engineer, and strived to keep her company on the cutting-edge of the latest and best technology.

Work proceeded smoothly until 2001, when Li was, “accused of using a technical discussion to attack a group leader [Jen Lewis].” Though Li felt the allegation was false, and stemmed from her colleague’s prejudicial feelings towards the Chinese, she remained quiet and let the incident pass. Lamentably, her group leader was not so quick to turn the other cheek, and the 2001 confrontation was reflected in Li’s 2002 performance review. Spurred into action, Li filed an internal discrimination complaint. Shortly after, she was transferred to Langley, Virginia.

In 2004, Li returned to the Marlborough branch, but her homecoming was not a sweet one. Li was withheld from permanent assignments, asked to relocate, and told that her name was on a layoff list, though such a list did not exist. Furthermore, Li’s ex-team manager [Jen Lewis], (who she had previously filed the discrimination complaint against) began to single Li out, aggressively staring at her in the hallways and attempting to intimidate her whenever they were alone. After eight months of abuse Li became worried about her personal safety and approached Human Resources for guidance. An appointment was set for August 3, 2004. Li assumed the meeting was to further investigate her case, but in actuality it was a mental health evaluation administered without her express knowledge or consent.

During the meeting the evaluator, Mr. John Didio* did not address a single of Li’s concerns. Instead, he repeatedly pointed his finger at Li and asked, “Do you want to kill someone or do you want to kill yourself?” Li felt traumatized.

Shortly after the evaluation, the company mandated that Li see a psychiatrist. She complied. The doctor found that Li suffered from an acute mental illness with psychotic features, and was not fit to work. Raytheon, however, did not take heed of the report and threatened to terminate Li’s services if she did not return to work immediately. Meanwhile, Li’s own doctor diagnosed her with occupationally induced Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Li filed a discrimination claim against her company, a workers compensation claim against her company’s insurer, and a malpractice claim against Mr. Didio.

Relying only on the medical reports provided by Raytheon, the local and appellate courts dismissed all three claims.

*The original article is
*The blogger put the names, “Raytheon”, “Jen Lewis” and “John Didio,” on.