U.S. Attorney Launches Civil Rights Initiative
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia has launched a new civil rights initiative aimed at reinvigorating the civil and criminal enforcement of federal civil rights laws throughout the District. The initiative was announced today by U.S. Attorney Neil H. MacBride and Thomas E. Perez, the Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.
“Today’s announcement shows that the department is committed to civil rights enforcement throughout the country,” said Assistant Attorney General Perez. “Our partnership with U.S. Attorney MacBride and his team is critical to our work in order to protect the most vulnerable in our society.”
“We are committed to aggressive, evenhanded and independent enforcement of the civil rights laws within this District,” said U.S. Attorney MacBride. “This initiative is not just aimed at resolving the cases brought to us, as important as that is. We also hope to partner with businesses and others in this District to work closely with us to address any compliance issues or questions they may have.”
The initiative announced today is an effort to broaden the reach of the U.S. Attorney’s Office to ensure that everyone living within the Eastern District of Virginia enjoys the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution. Those seeking additional information may contact the Office at (703) 299-3700.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Gordon was named the Office’s Civil Rights Coordinator for civil enforcement and will be the Office’s primary liaison with the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division for civil matters. Gordon will oversee civil enforcement that is presently focused on three areas: disability rights, fair lending and fair housing. These efforts aim to ensure that no one is denied the ability to enjoy public accommodations, have access to fair credit, or live in a community because of their disability, race or any other discriminatory practice.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Mikolashek was named the Office’s Servicemembers Rights Coordinator and will lead a renewed effort to protect the rights of members of the military either on active duty or returning to civilian life. The civil enforcement will be aimed at ensuring that employers do not discriminate against military members, put servicemembers back to work when they return from military service, and provide them with the benefits they accrued while away from work serving their country. The U.S. Attorney’s Office will also proactively enforce laws that protect military members who are placed into active duty from certain obligations – such as eviction, foreclosure, installment contracts – so that they can focus their full attention on their military responsibilities.
In addition to civil enforcement, U.S. Attorney MacBride announced a renewed effort to prosecute criminal civil rights cases, primarily involving human trafficking and forced labor. The Office has sponsored a human trafficking task force in northern Virginia and is proactively investigating allegations of trafficking by massage parlors, prostitution rings, gangs and room salons – all of which are prevalent in the District and have demonstrated a connection to human and sex trafficking. The initiative also aims to aggressively work to identify victims of labor trafficking to ensure that vulnerable immigrants to the District are not exploited by their employers.Assistant U.S. Attorney Inayat Delawala serves as the Office’s coordinator for the human trafficking task force, with assistance from deputy coordinator Assistant U.S. Attorney Justin Fairfax and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Frank, who is serving on detail from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.