The FBI agreed to pay nearly $300,000 to settle a lawsuit from a former agent who claimed her 10-year career was ruined after accusing a superior of sexual harassment.
The 1993 lawsuit by Suzane J. Doucette, 40, was the first such lawsuit filed by a female agent against the FBI. It alleged sexual harassment, sex discrimination and retaliation.
“I am elated that we have resolved this case,” Doucette said Tuesday.
In announcing the settlement, FBI attorney Howard Shapiro in Washington said there also was a previously unannounced settlement involving two Orange County agents.
The FBI paid agent Heather PowerAnderson $192,500 and agent Boni Carr Alduenda $155,000 last May to settle their sexual harassment lawsuits.
Doucette, an agent assigned to work in Tucson, Ariz., said an FBI superior placed a choke-hold around her neck in 1988 and touched her “in ways that are very sensitive.”
Doucette said she suffered on-the-job harassment and retaliation for complaining to FBI authorities. The superior, Herbert H. Hawkins Jr., has since retired and has denied all wrongdoing.
In exchange for dismissing the lawsuit, the FBI agreed to pay Doucette $150,000 and her lawyers $147,500. Doucette also will get her pension for 10 years of government service.
Shapiro said the FBI did not admit wrongdoing in settling the lawsuit.
Doucette’s lawyer, Gloria Allred, said FBI Director Louis Freeh “did the right thing in this case and recently in other sexual harassment cases by sending a strong signal that the FBI will not tolerate sexual harassment or sex discrimination in its workplace.”
Doucette’s complaint, which led to an appearance before Congress, was part of a series of embarrassing episodes involving FBI personnel policies and alleged bias.
The FBI has also settled a number of job discrimination complaints by black and Hispanic agents.