Rita Gdula

Johnjerica Hodge with Ms. Gdulas

Rita Gdula was fired from a local university with no explanation for her termination after 31 years of employment. She filed an action with the DC Office of Human Rights (OHR) asserting that her termination constituted age discrimination. After working with three different law firms over the course of several years, OHR dismissed her case. 

Ms. Gdula was not ready to give up. She filed an appeal in the DC Court of Appeals, but, at this point, she was working without representation. Although Ms. Gdula did not know about Legal Aid DC, our Barbara McDowell Appellate Advocacy Project monitors the cases filed in the DC Court of Appeals. They found her case, and reached out to her. Legal Aid DC's Appellate Director, Jonathan Levy, referred Ms. Gdula's case to a team at Katten led by litigation partner Johnjerica Hodge.

The appellate case was challenging. Ms. Gdula was now going up against both the university and OHR. Additionally, there were some critical facts that were not in the lower court record and therefore would not be considered on appeal. Fortunately, thanks to Johnjerica’s skilled advocacy, the Court ultimately decided to remand the case back to OHR. 

"I admired Ms. Gdula’s courage to stand up," Johnjerica said. "Even when the odds were against her, she never gave up."