In a series of Equal Employment Opportunity administrative complaints, and in her recently updated lawsuit, Laughlin says bureau officials selected lesser-qualified individuals for jobs she deserved. She blames age and gender discrimination, as well as retaliation
In Laughlin’s original 2011 lawsuit, filed in federal court in Washington, D.C., the University of Pennsylvania graduate cited 10 jobs she says she should have gotten. In her updated lawsuit, Laughlin adds four other positions she says she was denied in the past two years, including assistant director-in-charge of the Los Angeles Division and assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division at the bureau’s headquarters. As a result, she is the nation’s most senior special agent-in-charge.
The FBI, in a legal filing, declared that it has “conducted itself in a lawful and non-discriminatory fashion.” As a matter of policy, the bureau does not generally comment on pending litigation.
In February, U.S. District Judge John D. Bates rejected Laughlin’s age discrimination claim with the observation that “pressure to retire, without more, does not constitute objectively tangible harm.” Laughlin turned 55 last year. Bates also dismissed Laughlin’s hostile work environment claims.
“She has not alleged conduct that is sufficiently severe or pervasive to state a plausible hostile work environment claim,” Bates reasoned, adding that the alleged acts “span a period of several years and were relatively infrequent.”
Bates, however, said the Laughlin could proceed with her sex discrimination and retaliation claims. Wachtel, Laughlin’s attorney, said the case is not likely to end soon.