- Department of Homeland Security boss faces discrimination lawsuit
- Napolitano ‘gave close friend promotion over better qualified men’
- Suit: She turned department into ‘frat house’ where men were tormented
- ICE chief of staff ‘humiliated and intimidated’ male employees
- Suzanne Barr ‘called male colleague in hotel room and used sexually-explicit language’
PUBLISHED: 07:49 EST, 10 August 2012 | UPDATED: 09:22 EST, 10 August 2012
The suit also accuses Napolitano of turning the department into a female-run ‘frat house’ where male staffers were routinely humiliated and on the receiving end of ‘sexually charged games’.
Napolitano’s chief of staff Suzanne Barr repeatedly targeted men because of their gender and once called a male employee’s hotel room to use sexually explicit language, the suit claims.
James T. Hayes Jr., a special agent in charge of New York City investigations for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, filed the lawsuit in Washington, the New York Post reported.
He claims Napolitano favoured Dora Schriro, who had worked as director of the Arizona Department of Corrections when Napolitano was governor of the state, for a job due to their relationship.
Hayes first worked as a border patrol agent in 1995 and then served as director of ICE Detention and Removal Operations in Washington, DC, but was demoted after Napolitano’s appointment, he claims.
In February 2009, she appointed Schriro as a ‘special adviser’ and began pushing him out of meetings, the lawsuit says.
Hayes claims that Schriro, who is now commissioner of the city Department of Correction, was not as qualified him for the role as she did not have as much law-enforcement experience.
‘Schriro did have experience, however, working with Secretary Napolitano,’ it writes. ‘Schriro enjoyed a long-standing relationship with the secretary.’
The lawsuit does not outline the exact nature of the relationship between Napolitano and the woman she brought with her to Washington from Arizona.
It has long been rumoured that ‘Big Sis’ Napolitano is a lesbian, but in 2002 she publicly denied the claims.
Schriro is a widow; she was married for just 10 months in 1991 before her husband, St Louis’s director of public safety Gay Carraway, died of cancer. He was 20 years her senior.
She has previously gushed about how much she looks up to Napolitano, naming her as one of her greatest influences – alongside her late husband and grandparents.
‘Janet Napolitano is one of the smartest people I’ve ever met,’ she told Education Update. ‘She’s totally capable of having a great time wherever she is and regardless of the workload.’
In the suit Hayes also accused Napolitano’s chief of staff at ICE, Suzanne Barr, of repeated ‘sexually offensive behaviour’ intended to ‘humiliate and intimidate male employees’.
On one occasion, Barr called a colleague in his hotel room and screamed using sexually explicit language, telling him she ‘wanted his c*** in the back of [her] throat’.
Hayes claims he ‘felt that he was being targeted because of his gender’ and witnessed Barr repeatedly picking on men.
She ‘created a frat-house type atmosphere that is targeted to humiliate and intimidate male employees’, according to court papers.
In 2009 she ‘removed the entire contents of the offices of three male employees, including nameplates, computers and telephones, to the men’s bathroom at ICE headquarters’.
Once she took a male special agent’s work phone and messaged his female supervise ‘indicating that the male employee had a crush on the female supervisor and fantasized about her’, it says.
The suit adds: ‘Further, Barr promoted and otherwise rewarded those male employees who play along with her sexually charged games.’
Hayes is seeking relief for $335,000 in damages.
ICE Director of Public Affairs Brian Hale told the New York Post: ‘ICE doesn’t comment on unfounded claims and will respond to Mr. Hayes’ allegations as appropriate through the judicial system.’
Robin Campbell, press secretary for the New York City Department of Correction, added: ‘Commissioner Schriro’s selection and service at DHS was based on the merits. Any suggestion to the contrary is false.’