Dean James at Right Wing Tribune
The former FBI director has been named in a lawsuit filed by former female FBI trainees who say they were sexually harassed in the FBI training academy.
The female trainees also claim they faced discrimination for being women when they believe they were treated unfairly at the academy, The New York Times reported.
Male instructors at the academy in Quantico, Va., exposed the women beginning in 2015 to a hostile work environment, sexual harassment and inappropriate jokes, according to the lawsuit. One woman said that an instructor referred to an African-American female trainee as “spaghetti head,” a reference to her braids. The woman also said training agents made repeated sexual advances.
In particular, the lawsuit takes aim at the tactical training that plays out Hogan’s Alley, the academy’s mock town where hired actors play terrorists and criminals. Trainees practice making dangerous arrests where they use weapons. Many of the female agent recruits were kicked out of the academy during this phase more quickly and more often than men were.
“The real purpose of the suit is to change the culture of the F.B.I.,” said David J. Shaffer, the lawyer for the women.
The lawsuit alleges that over 100 women who recently enrolled at the FBI’s Basic Field Training Course in Quantico as new agent trainees or new intelligence analyst trainees have encountered some form of gender discrimination, and that the problem is worse for women of color or those with disabilities. It is a proposed class action lawsuit, but the class is not yet certified.
“The FBI has intentionally allowed the Good Old Boy Network to flourish unrestrained at the FBI Academy,” alleges the suit. “Training Division staff, including instructors, supervisors, field counselors, managers, and review board members, frequently dismiss mistakes made by male trainees as isolated incidents, determine male trainees to be retrainable, and retain them at the Academy at a disproportionately higher rate than their female trainee counterparts,” NBC reports.
The suit also named the former F.B.I. director James B. Comey, who is accused by one woman of dismissing her complaints, and Mark Morgan, President Trump’s nominee to lead Immigration and Customs Enforcement, who oversaw the academy as a former top F.B.I. official and was involved in the dismissal of female trainees. Mr. Comey declined to comment. Mr. Morgan did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Sixteen women sued, seven of whom continue to work for the F.B.I. Some women did not use their full names, fearing retaliation. As part of the lawsuit, they asked for a review of the training evaluation process; $300,000 each for emotional stress; and more female training instructors.
The F.B.I. declined to comment on the lawsuit but said in a statement that it was “committed to fostering a work environment where all of our employees are valued and respected.” Internal figures provided by the F.B.I. show the bureau’s efforts to recruit more women are gaining traction. The F.B.I. said the number of women applying to be agents had increased from 22 percent in 2017 to 36 percent this year, surpassing the bureau’s goal of 33 percent for the current fiscal year.
Attorney General William P. Barr said last month that he had directed the Justice Department to investigate accusations of discrimination, including claims that the F.B.I. academy forced out male potential agents for not being “masculine enough.”
“The FBI has intentionally allowed the Good Old Boy Network to flourish unrestrained at the FBI Academy,” alleges the suit. “Training Division staff, including instructors, supervisors, field counselors, managers, and review board members, frequently dismiss mistakes made by male trainees as isolated incidents, determine male trainees to be retrainable, and retain them at the Academy at a disproportionately higher rate than their female trainee counterparts.”
It’s not looking so good for Comey.