A Washington Post reporter has sued the paper for allegedly discriminating against her by preventing her from covering stories about sexual misconduct and the #MeToo movement after she publicly spoke out about being a victim of sexual assault.
Felicia Sonmez, a national politics reporter, said in a complaint filed Wednesday in D.C. Superior Court (pdf) that she was barred from reporting on sexual misconduct after she issued a statement in September 2018 on the resignation of a Los Angeles Times journalist who she said had assaulted her. He has denied the allegations, saying what happened was consensual.
According to the lawsuit, after Sonmez issued the statement, she was barred from covering stories related to sexual misconduct, a ban lifted earlier this year after she publicly criticized the paper for its stance.
“The Post disciplined Ms. Sonmez for making herself the ‘star’ of her own sexual assault and for criticizing other news organizations,” the complaint alleged.
The lawsuit names WP Company LLC, former Post executive editor Marty Baron, managing editors Cameron Barr and Tracy Grant, deputy national editor Lori Montgomery, and senior politics editor Peter Wallsten.
Somnez said Barr told her she had “taken a side on the issue’” of sexual assault by going public with her own story, while Ginsburg told her that “it would present ‘the appearance of a conflict of interest’” for her to report on sexual misconduct, according to the complaint.
Washington Post spokesperson Kris Coratti declined to comment on the suit.
The lawsuit claims Sonmez had been “chastised, silenced and subjected to humiliation on a repeated basis for being a victim of sexual assault, for defending herself against false accusations and for her opposition to Defendants’ attempts to depict her as unworthy or unable to perform the duties of her position.”
It also claims that Sonmez has lost opportunities for career advancement and has experienced “economic loss, humiliation, embarrassment, mental and emotional distress, and the deprivation of her rights to equal employment opportunities.”
The suit also claims Sonmez has suffered “serious and verifiable emotional distress, embarrassment and humiliation that has required, and will continue to require, medical treatment and medication.”
Sonmez is seeking compensatory and punitive damages and to force the paper to take steps to remedy its conduct and prevent similar situations.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.