Washington Post political reporter Felicia Sonmez has filed a lawsuit against the newspaper, alleging discrimination after she came forward with a personal story of sexual assault.
The story: Sonmez filed the lawsuit on Wednesday in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.
The defendants in the complaint include the Post, managing editors Cameron Barr and Tracy Grant, former Executive Editor Marty Baron, national editor Steven Ginsberg, and other newsroom leaders.
The lawsuit claims that the alleged discriminatory conduct against Sonmez caused her humiliation and emotional distress and violated the D.C. Human Rights Act. Sonmez also said she suffered physical pain from grinding her teeth and had to undergo two surgeries to relieve her jaw pain.
“At various times, Ms. Sonmez became severely depressed, developed intense anxiety and received treatment from therapists and psychiatrists who she continues to see today,” the lawsuit states.
The suit is asking for damages and a ruling that would force the Post to take steps to prevent similar situations in the future.
CNN first reported on the lawsuit.
In detail: The lawsuit claims that the Post did not allow Sonmez to report on sexual misconduct after she accused a Los Angeles Times journalist in 2018 of sexually assaulting her while they were in China. The LA Times journalist said it was consensual.
Sonmez said the publication prohibited her from writing about Christine Blasey Ford’s sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who was then a nominee for the position. According to her, Barr said she could not report on it because she had “‘taken a side on the issue'” when she spoke about her experience publicly.
Ginsburg told her “it would present ‘the appearance of a conflict of interest'” for her to report on sexual misconduct, according to the complaint.
The lawsuit says that she was later banned from reporting on sexual misconduct and was often taken off stories.
In January 2020, the paper put her on leave because she tweeted a story about a 2003 rape allegation against Kobe Bryant shortly after he died.
The Post eventually lifted the ban in March this year after Politico reported on it.
Sonmez issued a statement through her attorney on Thursday.
“Not all survivors publicly share their stories. But all survivors of trauma, including sexual assault, deserve the full support of their newsrooms,” she said. “They should never have to fear that they will be punished, silenced or barred from doing their jobs because of what was done to them.”
The Post’s actions “retraumatized and humiliated me by forcing me to relive my assault at work, over and over, whenever news broke and a colleague would ask why I wasn’t allowed to cover a story,” the statement added.
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