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A former San Francisco-based FBI agent who alleged a decade-long pattern of sexual harassment has settled her case against the government for $150,000 plus costs and attorneys’ fees. Kathleen Anderson alleged that fellow agents subjected her to vulgar messages, verbal harassment, offers of sex and retaliatory acts beginning in 1986 and continuing until she filed suit against the FBI in 1997. Lawyers for Anderson announced the settlement on what was scheduled to be the first day of the trial. “We’re thrilled,” said Chapman, Popik & White partner John Heller. “This was a major victory for Kathleen and full vindication for her and her claims of discrimination.” U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker of the Northern District of California, who was reversed when the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated Anderson’s case last September, strongly urged the parties to settle, even postponing the beginning of the trial as lawyers negotiated into Monday night. The 9th Circuit case held that Title VII claims by federal employees were not time-barred if the acts alleged were part of a continuing pattern of harassment. Anderson v. Reno, 190 F.3d 930, has become an oft-cited case in the field of employment law. Department of Justice attorney Carol Federighi handled the case for the government. The Northern District U.S. Attorney’s office did not try the case, but was involved in one respect. San Jose Division Chief Elizabeth De La Vega submitted a declaration on behalf of Anderson, saying that one of the agents named in her complaint, Adrian Coulter, had exhibited behavior “both toward female agents and toward me, which is indicative of a discriminatory attitude toward women.” De La Vega also said that Coulter, Anderson’s boss at the time, had failed to provide the necessary support in a complicated money laundering investigation. Heller said the De La Vega declaration helped Anderson’s case. “Certainly the 9th Circuit quoted a lot of the things that she found important,” he said. De La Vega did not return a phone call seeking comment, and the Department of Justice’s Federighi could not be reached. Andrew Black, spokesman for the S.F. division of the FBI, said “the primary reason for settling this case is the cost effectiveness for both sides.” “We were prepared to litigate the allegations completely. We’ve denied these allegations and we continue to deny these allegations.” Anderson alleged a number of inappropriate incidents, including being referred to as the “office sex goddess” by her supervisor from 1986 to 1990, FBI agent William Smith. In 1990, Anderson transferred to San Jose, where Coulter, a former lover, allegedly began to subject her to further humiliation. Anderson also alleged she received numerous anonymous notes, including one that read: “Women serve only on their backs.” Another note was purportedly a copy of a rejection notice J. Edgar Hoover once sent to a female applicant, saying, “We do not employ women [because] we must have agents who are qualified to cope with any situation they may face.” Anderson resigned from the FBI last year after 20 years, the earliest she could have done so without losing benefits. “She’s trying to decide what to do next,” Heller said. The $150,000 settlement should buy her some time. The figure is half of the maximum award allowed for federal employees with Title VII claims. William Chapman, a name partner who tried the case with Heller, said in a statement that the fees and costs are “substantial.” Anderson said she feels vindicated by the settlement. “I think my attorneys deserve every penny.”

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