Reporter hits the Washington Publish with a lawsuit on discrimination allegations

Reporter Felicia Sonmez is suing the Washington Post on discrimination allegations.

The Washington Post was recently hit by a complaint filed by reporter Felicia Sonmez on allegations of discrimination. According to the lawsuit, “the newspaper’s former editor-in-chief Marty Baron and other newsroom directors purposely prevented her from reporting sexual misconduct after going public with her own experience of assault.”

A hammer. Image via Wikimedia Commons via Flickr / User: Brian Turner. (CCA-BY-2.0).

In addition, the lawsuit alleges that the Washington Post “denied Sonmez the opportunity to cover many stories that were newsworthy and received widespread attention that would have led to further exposure and career advancement … and emotional distress.”

It’s important to note that Sonmez went public with allegations of sexual assault against former Los Angeles Times journalist Jon Kaiman back in 2018. According to her, Kaiman “sexually penetrated her the previous year in Beijing when she was too drunk to consent.” Similar allegations against Kaiman were made by another woman that same year. While Kaiman has so far denied the allegations, he eventually resigned from the Times when an investigation into the allegations began.

In June 2018, Sonmez took a position with the Washington Post breaking political news. According to the lawsuit, the Post was reviewing a “public statement regarding their alleged attack, which” she was released in September. ”However, Christine Blasey Ford made allegations against Brett Kavanaugh that same month. Soon after hearing Ford’s story, Sonmez said, “Her bosses removed her from the reporting schedule, stating that her allegations against Kaiman were too similar to Blasey Ford’s against Kavanaugh.” In addition, her editors also cited her first reaction when the news broke – that she found it too hard to read and she walked around the block to collect herself – as evidence that she wouldn’t be able to get in her reporting to stay objective. “

Sonmez also claims that she knows of a male colleague who “faced his own allegations of sexual misconduct, even though he was never banned from reporting stories of sexual misconduct or inappropriate behavior by men”. In fact, he wrote “more than a dozen of them”. Sonmez, on the other hand, is said to have allegedly been told that “because she positioned herself as an activist, she created a conflict of interest”.

The ban that prevented Sonmez from reporting these types of stories was lifted in November 2018, but was quickly reintroduced in August 2019 “when an article questioning Sonmez’s account sparked a wave of harassment online” . After filing a public request for correction, her editors allegedly banned her from reporting on #MeToo stories. In addition, they warned her that “reporters should make every effort to stay in the audience, be the stage worker, not the star, to cover the news, not to make the news.” The lawsuit meant the Post was disciplining Sonmez “for making herself the ‘star’ of her own sexual assault”.

To make matters worse, Sonmez was suspended in 2020 when she tweeted an article about “the rape allegations against Kobe Bryant.” The suspension was short-lived after the newspaper was rejected by the Post union and other staff. As a result of all the back-and-forth, non-writing, and suspension, Sonmez feels that her relationship with her employers is tarnished and she is now trapped in a hostile work environment.

The lawsuit argues that Sonmez developed depression and anxiety and missed career opportunities. As a result, she is demanding a jury trial and damages that have yet to be determined.


Felicia Sonmez is suing the Washington Post for gender discrimination

Washington Post reporter sued paper for gender discrimination

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