James T. Hayes Jr., special agent in charge of New York City investigations for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), has filed a potentially explosive lawsuit against Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano, alleging that he was shunted aside so that Napolitano could give a job to a “less qualified woman” with whom she “enjoyed a long-standing relationship.” The federal complaint also alleges that Napolitano’s handpicked Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Chief of Staff, Suzanne Barr, “created a frat-house type atmosphere that is targeted to humiliate and intimidate male employees.” The suit was filed in United States District Court for the District of Columbia.
The woman involved in the long-standing relationship with Napolitano has been identified as Dora Schriro, former head of the Missouri Corrections Department who became director of the Arizona Department of Corrections when Napolitano was governor of the state. She currently serves as commissioner for the New York City Department of Corrections, where she was appointed by Mayor Mike Bloomberg. Debbie Schlussel reports that Napolitano helped Schriro get her current job so that Schriro could live near a sick relative.
According to the suit, Hayes began his federal career in 1995 as a border patrol agent in Texas, and rose quickly through the ranks of the federal immigration bureaucracy. In September 2008, he was promoted to head the agency’s detention and removal operations, managing a staff of 8,500 and a budget of about $2.5 billion. Hayes contends he began being supplanted at DHS and ICE meetings by Schriro in 2009, when she became special advisor to Napolitano. He further contends that he was “being replaced in his duties” in part because “he was not female,” and that Schriro was unqualified for the job because she “lacked federal law enforcement experience.”
Hayes then sought a transfer to Los Angeles that was denied, after which he was offered “positions in the agency at lower salary and grade levels.” When he threatened to file an internal discrimination suit, Hayes was subjected to “at least six investigations conducted by the ICE Office of Professional Responsibility.” Hayes alleges these actions were taken “in order to intimidate” him, and “to prevent him from filing any EEO complaints.” He was eventually transferred to New York in late 2009 “at a substantial financial loss,” and thus is also suing to recover $335,000 in moving costs, unpaid relocation bonuses and lost wages.
The allegations against Suzanne Barr are equally unsavory. She is also an Arizona import, having been previously employed as Napolitano’s Chief of Staff in the Arizona Gubernatorial office prior to being appointed as ICE Chief of Staff, despite her own lack law enforcement experience. In his suit, Hayes offers several examples of the frat-house type atmosphere of intimidation and humiliation aimed at male employees by Barr.
In April and May 2009, Barr allegedly “removed the entire contents of the offices of three male employees, including nameplates, computers and telephones, to the men’s bathroom at ICE headquarters.” She allegedly humiliated a male employee “by calling that employee in his hotel room and screaming that she want ‘his c**k in the back of her throat.’” Barr also allegedly took “an ICE Blackberry device assigned to a male Special Agent in Charge,” sending a message to “his female supervisor indicating that the male employee has a crush on the female supervisor and fantasized about her.” In addition, she allegedly “promoted and otherwise rewarded male employees who would play along with her sexually charged games.”
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