Grassley Presses Justice Department Inspector General to Investigate Claims of Discrimination Against Female Supervisors at the FBI
WASHINGTON – Senator Chuck Grassley has asked the Inspector General for the Justice Department to investigate allegations of gender discrimination and retaliation within the FBI.
Grassley was recently alerted by three female FBI whistleblowers about the alleged misconduct. Each of the whistleblowers had previously worked as a supervisor in her office.
Grassley wrote in his letter to the Inspector General, “These women allege that they suffered gender discrimination and that they were retaliated against when they tried to report these abuses through the Equal Employment Opportunity process or other means.”
The whistleblowers have indicated to Grassley that there are other female employees at the FBI who have suffered similar abuse, but are reluctant to come forward due to fear of reprisal.
Grassley brought up the matter with FBI Director James Comey during yesterday’s FBI Oversight hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Grassley explained to Comey that one whistleblower claims that she was disciplined for allegedly being, "emotionally unstable," and "unable to work with others," because she pointed out that her man-sized hazardous materials suit didn't fit her. Another whistle-blower claims that she was denied a job for which she was ranked first out of six candidates because her male supervisors claimed that she was "emotionally fragile," following a divorce.
In response to Grassley’s questioning, Comey agreed to make sure the FBI cooperated fully with the Inspector General, and that the women suffered no further retaliation.
Here’s a copy of the text of the letter to Inspector General Michael Horowitz. Here’s a signed copy of the letter.
May 21, 2014
VIA ELECTRONIC TRANSMISSION
The Honorable Michael E. Horowitz
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
Washington, DC 20530
Dear Inspector General Horowitz:
Recently, three female FBI whistleblowers contacted my office. Each one previously worked as a supervisor in FBI offices where their colleagues were predominantly male. These women allege that they suffered gender discrimination and that they were retaliated against when they tried to report these abuses through the Equal Employment Opportunity process or other means. These whistleblowers allege that there are additional female employees at the FBI who have suffered similar abuse, but are reluctant to report due to fear of reprisal.
At today’s FBI oversight hearing, FBI Director James Comey was apprised of these allegations and pledged that the Bureau would fully cooperate with any review you might undertake and ensure that there is no further retaliation.1 Please investigate these individual cases and determine whether there might be a pattern or perception of hostility toward women or whistleblowers that the FBI needs to address.
Please have your staff contact my office to make arrangements to contact these women and assess their allegations. Also, I would appreciate a status update on each of the requested investigations by June 23, 2014, including whether your office has decided to initiate an investigation and your rationale for that decision. Thank you for your attention to this matter. If you have any questions, please contact XXX of my Committee staff at (202) 224-5225.
Charles E. Grassley
1 U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Oversight of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, (May 21, 2014); http://www.judiciary.senate.gov/meetings/oversight-of-the-federal-bureau..., at 50:00-52:00; accessed May 21, 2014.