Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP
Washington Post political reporter Felicia Sonmez sued the newspaper and several of its current and former editors for allegedly discriminating against her as a victim of sexual assault.
In a complaint filed in DC Superior Court on Wednesday, Sonmez said she was not authorized to report sexual misconduct after issuing a statement in September 2018 about the resignation of a Los Angeles Times reporter who, according to she had attacked her in China. He said what happened was consensual.
Sonmez said in the statement she was grateful the Times took his allegations seriously, but criticized the way it handled the investigation, and said the institutions’ response is key to tackling sexual misconduct. .
She said the Post then banned her from writing about Christine Blasey Ford’s sexual assault allegations against Brett Kavanaugh, now a Supreme Court justice. She said Cameron Barr, the Post’s editor, told her she had “‘taken sides on the issue'” of sexual assault by speaking publicly about her own experience, while Steven Ginsburg, the editor National Post, told her that “this would present ‘the appearance of a conflict of interest” for her to report sexual misconduct.
Sonmez said the ban was subsequently extended so that it could not cover sexual misconduct at all and was frequently removed from the stories.
The newspaper also put her on leave in January 2020 after tweeting a link to a story about a 2003 rape allegation against Kobe Bryant hours after his death. She was allowed to return to work after intense criticism of the suspension of her Post colleagues.
The ban, meanwhile, was lifted in March 2021, the day after a Politico article about the Post’s coverage ban and Sonmez’s criticism of how publishers failed to back it when she has been threatened online.
Sonmez’s lawsuit said she suffered humiliation and emotional distress as a result of the alleged discriminatory conduct, which she said violated DC human rights law, as well as the physical pain caused by teeth grinding at night which led to two surgeries to relieve her jaw pain.
She seeks damages and obliges the newspaper to take action to remedy her behavior and avoid similar situations.
Sonmez sued Barr, Ginsburg, former Post editor Marty Baron, editor Tracy Grant, deputy national editor Lori Montgomery, who was named Post business editor on Thursday, and senior political editor. Peter Wallsten. Baron declined to comment in both an email and a LinkedIn post.
Washington Post spokesman Kris Coratti declined to comment on the lawsuit.
Former Associated Press editor Sally Buzbee was appointed in May to replace Baron as head of the Post’s newsroom.