(Editor’s Note: This post has been updated with additional reaction to the decision)
A judge has ordered the reinstatement of a Chinese American government scientist in Ohio who was fired after being accused of spying for China.
Chief Administrative Judge Michele Schroeder of the Merit Systems Protection Board has directed the National Weather Service to reinstate Sherry Chen, plus give her back pay and benefits.
The ruling which was confirmed by the Sherry Chen Defense Fund stems from her arrest in 2014 and subsequent firing in 2016. Judge Schroeder ruled that the Department of Commerce which overseas the National Weather Service did not have just cause to dismiss her.
“This is a significant milestone for Sherry Chen, for the Asian American community, and for the nation as whole, in our quest for equal justice for all people regardless of their race, color and national origin,” Vincent Wang, an Asian American civil rights activist in Ohio, told AsAmNews. “It exposes the racial bias, violation of due process, abuse of power and lack of efficiency in the DOC. It sends a strong message to those who have a tendency to stereotype, target and/or discriminate Asian Americans and other minorities – we all embrace the American values and contribute to the American society, and we have the will and capacity as a community to defend our rights as an equal citizen in this country.”
The case has been singled out by members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus and the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights as an example of racial profiling of Chinese and Asian Americans.
In her 130 page decision, the judge called baseless accusations that Chen attempted to obtain secret information from a government data base for a Chinese official.
“We hope this decision sends a strong message to the federal government: stop targeting innocent Chinese Americans,” the fund said in a statement released following the judge’s decision.
“Three and a half years after her wrongful arrest in October,2014 and two years after her termination in March 2016, Sherry Chen finally has received justice,” said the statement.
The Department of Commerce has not yet announced whether it will appeal the judge’s ruling.
“We hope the DOC will accept the judge’s decision in the next month, and implement her decision promptly,” said Wang. “We are looking forward to supporting Sherry Chen in her journey to recover the damages she and her family endured through the ordeal. We are looking forward to leverage Sherry Chen’s case to continue raising awareness of American values and constitutional rights among our community.”
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