An FBI employee was relentlessly harassed by her co-workers who were jealous of her looks and successful Latin music singing career, she has claimed in a lawsuit.
Erika Bonilla, who has released one album and signed a contract to record her second, claims staff spread malicious rumours about her and claimed she only got a promotion due to her looks.
They also allegedly sifted through her belongings and made frivolous complaints about her appearance and work ethic - while management at the offices in Albuquerque, New Mexico also treated her unfairly when she complained.
The suit claims Bonilla was 'targeted, harassed and retaliated against because she is an attractive Hispanic female... and several coworkers were jealous of her appearance and Latin singing career'.
Bonilla is requesting unspecified damages, back pay, 'and other equitable relief' for discrimination on the basis of race and gender, ABC News reported.
The lawsuit names the Justice Department and Attorney General Eric Holder as defendants.
Bonilla, who has now been relocated to California, said the treatment began after she was given a new position that some colleagues believed she have gone to another woman.
Staff started spreading rumours that she had 'had sexual relations' with executives for the role or had only earned it for her appearance - remarks which she chalked down to jealousy.
One employee 'made comments about how they needed to "get rid of Erika",' the lawsuit says.
Another co-worker 'falsely stated that the reason the position was given to [Bonilla] was because [she] had sexual relations with executive management in the Albuquerque Office'.
The lawsuit added that rumours were spread throughout the office that she was not paying her taxes on income from singing, and employees sifted through her belongings, including her purse.
Claims: In a lawsuit, Bonilla, who has recorded an album, claims co-workers said she was only given a promotion due to her appearance and because as she had sexual relations with a senior member of staff
When Bonilla took her concerns to managers, they found there was evidence of one male co-worker harassing her - yet she claims she was subjected to unfair treatment throughout their investigation.
She 'was inappropriately questioned, in an accusatory fashion, whether she had engaged in sexual relations with members of the executive management in exchange for promotion', the suit said.
During the investigation, she was also asked to document every minute of her day over a year to avoid a 10-day suspension, but found it 'nearly impossible'.
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She was unable to keep up with the journal and was suspended without 10 days, the suit claims.
Bonilla filed a complaint with FBI's Equal Employment Opportunity Affairs of employment discrimination in December 2009.
But rather than improve her work life, Bonilla said the move meant staff retaliated against her and filed anonymous complaints saying her clothes were 'offensive' and that she was often late.
'Competition': Bonilla, left, said the unfair treatment began after she was given a promotion, which colleagues thought co-worker Maria Grossetete, pictured right, deserved
Scene: Bonilla worked at the FBI offices in Albuquerque, New Mexico before she was relocated to California
The suit states: 'After obtaining the new position, [Bonilla] was harassed by a handful of employees in the office, who thought that Support Services Technician Maria Grossetete should have received the position.
'The Agency knew that Ms. Bonilla was in fact being harassed and retaliated against. The damage was done as to Ms. Bonilla and the agency did nothing to rectify what happened.'
Her attorney, Monica Garcia, added: 'Ms. Bonilla indicated this harassment included maliciously false rumors, disparate treatment and frivolous complaints that caused her anguish and lost pay.
'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.'
Defendant: The lawsuit, which is requesting unspecified damages, names General Attorney Eric Holder (pictured) and the Justice Department as defendants
Bonilla is a professional singer who has recorded one album.
On her website, she says she has a 'dynamic stage presence, coupled with powerful vocals and genuine passion for singing, bring out the emotional vibe in all of her performances'.
It adds that she holds 'solo performances throughout the country' including performing the National Anthem 'at various singing venues'.
She has performed at various FBI functions and the agency 'allows her to work as a singer', the lawsuit claims.
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