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Lawsuit accuses FBI of misogyny and sexual harassment

Many California residents view the Federal Bureau of Investigation as the nation's most prestigious law enforcement agency, but a lawsuit filed on May 26 alleges that the Bureau is misogynistic and treats its female agents and analysts unfairly. Seven of the 16 female plaintiffs still work for the FBI, and some of them did not use their full names in the lawsuit because they fear retaliation.

The women claim that the overwhelmingly male instructors at the bureau's Quantico training facility penalize women for mistakes that are overlooked when male trainees make them, and they say that female trainees are dismissed at far higher rates than their male counterparts. The lawsuit also alleges that inappropriate jokes and uninvited and unwelcome sexual advances are commonplace.

The lawsuit is seeking $300,000 for each of the women to compensate them for their emotional stress, but the attorney representing the plaintiffs says that the primary goal of the litigation is to change the FBI's internal culture. He said in a press interview that hiring more female instructors to train agent recruits would be a positive first step the Bureau could take. The FBI did not address the claims directly in a press release, but it did say that the agency is committed to valuing and respecting all its employees.

This kind of lawsuit often attracts media attention and can cause employers a great deal of embarrassment. Attorneys with experience in sexual harassment and discrimination litigation could urge employers to settle these matters quickly and discretely by pointing this out. Lawyers could also remind employers about the severe sanctions they could face for taking retaliatory action against workers who step forward.

Source: NDTV, 16 Women Sue FBI Over "Good Old Boy Network, Sex Discrimination": Report, Reuters report, May 30, 2019

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