Washington Post reporter Felicia Sonmez filed a lawsuit Thursday against the paper and a handful of its senior leaders, alleging that they unfairly discriminated against her.
Sonmez, a national politics reporter, claimed in the lawsuit that senior leaders at the Washington Post banned her from covering topics related to sexual misconduct after she publicly revealed that she was a survivor of sexual assault, CNN Business reported. The ban prevented her from covering the #MeToo movement, including the allegations against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh that surfaced during his confirmation process.
The man Sonmez accused of assault denied the allegations and said everything was consensual, CNN reported. (RELATED: WaPo Reporter Suspended After Series Of Tweets About Kobe Bryant’s Rape Case)
The lawsuit, which was filed in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, named the Post itself, former Executive Editor Marty Baron, Managing Editor Cameron Barr, Managing Editor Tracy Grant, National Editor Steven Ginsberg, Deputy National Editor Lori Montgomery, and Senior Politics Editor Peter Wallsten. The ban on covering sexual misconduct was put in place under Baron and lifted at the beginning of 2021, the lawsuit said according to CNN.
— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) July 22, 2021
The lawsuit seeks monetary damages as well as a requirement for the Post and its editors to “take all affirmative steps necessary to remedy the effects of the illegal, discriminatory and retaliatory conduct described.”
Sonmez had complained about the ban publicly and privately. Even though it was lifted, the reporter suffered “economic loss, humiliation, embarrassment, mental and emotional distress, and the deprivation of her rights to equal employment opportunities,” the lawsuit alleged. (RELATED: WaPo Reporter Responsible For Kobe Bryant Tweets Speak Out, Condemns Paper For Suspension)
“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 said according to CNN. “She also experienced physical pain, including severe pain in her jaw from grinding her teeth at night,” and “eventually developed temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder.”
According to the lawsuit, Sonmez continues to take antidepressant medication and see a therapist. She also had two surgeries to deal with the pain in her jaw.
“Survivors of trauma, including sexual assault, deserve the full support of their newsrooms,” Sonmez told CNN business. “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 Washington Post told the Daily Caller that they did not have a comment on the lawsuit at this time.