The woman who heads Seattle’s FBI office has been at the helm longer than any of her counterparts across the country.
Agent Laura Laughlin says that’s because she’s being discriminated against and not getting promotions that are being offered to less qualified males.
Her nine years as Special Agent-in-Charge (SAC) of the Seattle FBI office is longer than any other SAC has served in recent FBI history. Typically, SAC’s hold their jobs for two years or so before moving on.
In court filings submitted last week, the Justice Department denies her sex discrimination claims and says the damages alleged “…were not proximately caused by a wrongful act or other conduct of and by this Defendant.”
Laughlin quietly filed suit in Washington, D.C. against Attorney General Eric Holder and the Justice Department in 2011. The suit says she’s been passed over more than 10 times for promotions to higher-level positions outside of Seattle.
In February, a judge dismissed portions of the lawsuit related to her age discrimination and hostile workplace claim. But he said she can proceed with allegations of sex discrimination and retaliation by the FBI.
Laughlin filed a new complaint last month based on the judge’s ruling.
Laughlin says the FBI “severely damaged” her reputation when it reassigned to the Portland FBI office the high profile murder case of assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Wales. Laughlin says the FBI took the punitive action because she had reassigned two white, male agents working the case who were racially and sexually discriminating against another agent.
Laughlin’s complaint also says she has been denied transfers and pay bonuses, and been encouraged to retire by high-level FBI managers.
KING 5 is awaiting a response from the Seattle FBI office about whether Laughlin will comment for this story.