(NEW YORK) — Erika Bonilla, a professional singer and former FBI employee in New Mexico, is suing the FBI for harassment and discrimination, saying several co-workers were “jealous of her appearance and Latin singing career.”
Bonilla, 38, began working at the FBI field office in Albuquerque, N.M., in December 2002. In the summer of 2007, Bonilla was promoted to an Administrative Specialist, “which entailed human resources management, language testing, applicant testing and recruiting matters,” according to the lawsuit filed with the U.S. District Court in New Mexico.
Bonilla’s suit, filed on June 18, names Attorney General Eric Holder and the Department of Justice, which oversees the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The suit states she “was targeted, harassed and retaliated against because she is an attractive Hispanic female with a career in Latin music.”
Bonilla is a professional Latin music singer, has released an album and signed a recording contract for a second album.
“She has performed at various FBIHQ functions,” which the “FBI is well aware of, and allows her to work as a singer,” the suit states.
The lawsuit was brought “to prevent [the FBI] from maintaining a policy” of discriminating against Bonilla, who now lives in California. She is requesting unspecified damages, back pay, “and other equitable relief” for discrimination on the basis of race and gender. She says she should be protected from retaliation for protected activity under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
A spokesman for the FBI declined to comment and referred ABC News to the Justice Department. Charles Miller, a spokesman for the Department of Justice declined to comment on ongoing litigation.
“Ms. Bonilla indicated this harassment included maliciously false rumors, disparate treatment and frivolous complaints that caused her anguish and lost pay,” said Monnica Garcia, Bonilla’s attorney. “This lawsuit was brought because, despite her repeated complaints to management, the agency failed to address the hostile work environment. Ms. Bonilla hopes this lawsuit will not only compensate her for her damages, but also prevent future acts of discrimination and retaliation.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Matt McFarland, CNN
Julia Horowitz, CNN
Jackie Wattles, CNN