A female FBI trainee who was dismissed from the bureau’s Quantico, Virginia, training academy has become the 17th woman to claim rampant sexual harassment at the facility, according to a court filing Monday.
The woman, a Florida resident identified in court documents by the initials T.S., joined a class-action lawsuit filed in May by 16 former and current female FBI agents who have sued the agency for what they claim is gender discrimination, a hostile work environment and sexual harassment at the Quantico base.
An FBI spokeswoman declined to comment on the latest accuser to join the lawsuit.
Male instructors made repeated sexual advances, made inappropriate jokes and evaluated female candidates more harshly than their male counterparts, the women claim in the lawsuit, which was amended Monday to include T.S.’s accusations.
T.S. says she was discharged from the academy after male supervisors sabotaged her candidacy by issuing a high number of citations, known as “suitability notations.” The citations are given at the discretion of instructors and knock trainees for specific issues such as inability to complete a task and insubordination.
T.S. received seven suitability notations and her instructors placed three more in her file without telling her, according to the lawsuit. The citations were for difficulty in passing the FBI’s tactical exam, which she failed the first time but passed on her second try.
The citations were presented to the New Agent Review Board, which discharged her from the academy in 2016. T.S. alleges a male counterpart who failed the test twice and racked up multiple suitability notions was not dismissed, and another male trainee who failed the test twice was discharged but was permitted to reapply.
Before her dismissal, T.S. said she was threatened when she complained about what she perceived as an unfair number of citations.
“This isn’t going to end well. Don’t get involved in the process. Take what we’re giving you,” a male supervising agent told T.S., according to the lawsuit.
T.S. said she filed a notice with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission within days of her dismissal from the academy and followed that up with a discrimination complaint in July 2016. The EEOC issued a decision in November, but the complaint does not say whether the agency ruled in her favor.
The initial lawsuit filed last year echoes some of T.S.’s complaints.
Among the complaints, one recruit said she was sexually harassed and mocked for her disability, and others claimed male recruits constantly badgered them for sex.
One recruit alleged in the lawsuit that two men pressured her for sex in the back of a car, while others encouraged her to sneak off into an empty room for that purpose. A 55-year-old agent slipped her his number, and another agent texted her 15 times a day until she told him to stop, according to the lawsuit.
The FBI has declined to comment on the lawsuit in general beyond saying that the bureau was committed to a working environment where employees are “valued and respected.”
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