Discharge Upgrade Secured for Kaplan Hecker & Fink Pro Bono Client

By: 
Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP
Published on:
September 19th, 2019

NEW YORK, NY, September 19, 2019 – Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP associate Talia Nissimyan successfully secured a discharge upgrade for our client, Aviation Electrician’s Mate First Class Petty Officer Frances J. Rotolo, who was honorably discharged from the United States Navy in the mid-1980s for homosexuality. 

After suffering years of discriminatory conduct, assault, and extreme sexual harassment, Petty Officer First Class Rotolo truthfully provided her sexual orientation in the course of a security clearance investigation. Though she was granted her clearance, she was then promptly processed for discharge despite having received multiple Naval distinctions for her service, her excellent performance record, and the strong support of her supervisors and peers. That discharge barred her from reenlistment, an action typically enforced following egregious and irremediable misconduct, or for AWOL servicemembers. This action caused both dignitary and employment harm, in addition to the ongoing effects of the harassment and discriminatory treatment she experienced while serving her country as a member of the Navy.

Together with her co-counsel at Ropes & Gray LLP, Ms. Nissimyan was able to help secure a decision by the Board for Correction of Naval Records that resulted in a major vindication of Petty Officer First Class Rotolo’s mistreatment. In upgrading her discharge, her record has been corrected to properly recognize her dedicated service. Kaplan Hecker & Fink and Ropes & Gray continue to pursue the full array of veterans’ benefits and care that Petty Officer First Class Rotolo richly deserves.

Managing Partner Julie Fink commented: “Our firm is incredibly proud to have represented Petty Officer First Class Rotolo in this matter, and to have helped to right this wrong. Petty Officer First Class Rotolo served her country with distinction and deserves this acknowledgement of the mistreatment that she never should have had to suffer. The pursuit of justice and equality through our legal work is at the core of Kaplan Hecker & Fink’s practice and we are proud of Talia’s hard work to achieve a just result in this matter.”