DHSJanet Napolitano named in two lawsuits

Published 5 September 2012

DHS secretary Janet Napolitano is under fire for two very different reasons as she is named in two separate lawsuits; the first lawsuit charges that two women executives Napolitano brought to DHS have mistreated male employees at the department; the second suit, brought by several ICE agents, charges that the administration’s deferred deportation executive order, which went into effect 15 August, force the agents face difficult choices while performing their tasks

DHS secretary Janet Napolitano is under fire for two very different reasons as she is named in two separate lawsuits.

The lawsuit filed in Washington, D.C. federal court in May by James Hayes, a special agent in charge of New York City investigations for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), accuses two women executives at DHS of sexual harassment, and accuses Napolitano of promoting them because they are friends of hers rather than their merits and previous employment history and experience.

Before being assigned to New York, Hayes served in Washington, D.C. as the director of ICE’s detention and removal operations. He considered the move to New York as a demotion.

The suit accuses Suzanne Barr ICE’s chief of staff, who was Napolitano’s chief of staff when Napolitano was governor of Arizona, of regularly harassing male employees.

The suit states that Barr stole a male employee’s official Blackberry cell phone and sent a message to a female superior that indicated he was attracted to her. Barr is also being accused of calling a male ICE agent into her hotel room and asking to have oral sex with him, as well as relocating three male employee’s desks to the men’s bathroom at ICE headquarters.

Hayes also accuses Napolitano of freezing him out of a promotion and instead giving the position to Dora Schriro, who is now head of New York City’s Department of Corrections (DOC). Schriro was originally brought to DHS as a special advisor to Napolitano, but according to the suit, she began to take the place of Hayes at meetings, as well as holding conference calls with Barr to discuss excuses for firing Hayes.

On Saturday, Barr resigned voluntarily from her position, but stated in her letter to chief of staff for ICE director John Morton, that the allegations were unfounded and that she resigned with regret and in order to avoid distractions for the agency.

The leader of the House Homeland Security Committee, Representative Peter King (R-New York) now wants a congressional inquiry into the accusations. “The resignation of Suzanne Barr raises the most serious questions about management practices and personnel policies at the Department of Homeland Security,” said King in a statement on 1 September. “The Committee on Homeland Security will continue and intensify its review of all the facts regarding this case and DHS personnel practices across the board.”

The second lawsuit was filed Thursday in Dallas by ten ICE agents against Napolitano and Morton, saying that