A former FBI agent in Kansas City has filed a lawsuit alleging that she was the victim of sexual harassment and was retaliated against after reporting it.
Julie Meriano was so troubled by the harassment by a male co-worker and worried for her own safety that she contacted Kansas City police, according to the suit filed in federal court in Kansas City.
The "trauma and stress" she experienced by the alleged hostile work environment caused her to take an extended medical leave before she was fired in 2016, according to the suit.
A spokeswoman for the FBI in Kansas City said Friday that the agency cannot comment on pending litigation.
Meriano became a special agent in 1997 and in July 2009 was assigned to the Kansas City office. That's when the alleged harassment by a male agent began, the suit said.
She alleged that he spread "negative and damaging rumors" about her and made "negative and insulting comments" about her physical appearance.
At one point, he created a fake profile on a dating website with her picture, implying that she was seeking sexual partners, the suit alleges.
When she attempted to report the harassing incidents, the suit alleges, management "misled and refused to properly address" her complaints. Instead, the suit maintains that Meriano was reprimanded and prohibited from reporting or talking about the situation.
Eventually she met with Kansas City police detectives to discuss her safety concerns, set up a safety plan and got information about obtaining a protection order.
The suit alleges that when her boss found out about the meeting he admonished her for going to an outside agency without going through her chain of command. She was ordered to not discuss the situation, and in 2015 she went on medical leave.
She was seeking to extend that leave in 2016 when she filed a discrimination complaint with the agency in 2016.
A few months later, she received notice that she had been terminated.