It is not often that a long and distinguished career and having the distinction of being the “longest serving” anything would be the basis of a discrimination and retaliation lawsuit, but it is. An agent at the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Seattle field office is claiming gender discrimination and pay raise discrimination. The shocking part is that the agent is in charge of the entire field office and that the complaints began years ago. In her initial complaint, the agent claimed that she was the victim of age and gender discrimination along with retaliation and a hostile workplace. Earlier this year a judge ruled that the agent’s gender discrimination and retaliation claims could proceed. King 5 posted a recent update on an ongoing battle between the FBI and one of its head agents.
Since 2005, Special Agent-in-Charge Lauren Laughlin has been in charge of operations at the FBI’s Seattle field office. Laughlin started working with the FBI in 1985 and had worked her way up to the head position. While overseeing all of the field office’s operations and agents in Seattle along with overseeing operations in nearby satellite offices, Laughlin began to see a disturbing trend with her position and treatment within the FBI. As part of her complaint, she says that some high-profile cases in her jurisdiction were sent to other field offices after she reassigned two white, male agents who were, as she claims, being insubordinate and acting in a racially and sexually discriminatory manner. She argues that her reassignment of the two male agents is the reason the Bureau is purposefully denying requests from her office and undermining her authority.
In Laughlin’s claim for gender discrimination she says that not only was she passed over for 10 promotions in the last 8 years, but that those positions went to less qualified male agents. She also claims she was denied pay raises and transfers to other field offices during that time. If the allegations about the promotions and the Bureau’s actions after she reassigned the two, white male agents are true, then Laughlin could very well have been the victim of not only gender discrimination but retaliation as well. After the judge’s ruling, Laughlin refilled her lawsuit.
Gender Discrimination and Retaliation
Gender discrimination can occur against both men and women, though it more commonly occurs to women by their male supervisors. Washington State and federal laws prohibit gender discrimination by any employer or employee. Furthermore, every discrimination law prohibits retaliatory actions against anyone claiming or assisting in a claim of discrimination. As exhibited in Laughlin’s case, there is a variety of ways an employer can potentially be accused of retaliating against those who claim discrimination.
Discrimination and retaliation claims can be complicated and stressful for both the employer and the employee. Experienced Washington employment attorneys can be of assistance throughout the process.