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FHFA employee files lawsuit against agency for $1 million

Claims pay discrimination after unwanted sexual advances

Monday, the employee of the Federal Housing Finance Agency who claims she was sexually harassed by FHFA Director Mel Watt filed a lawsuit against the agency for $1 million.

In the lawsuit, Simone Grimes v. Federal Housing Finance Agency, FHFA employee Simone Grimes claims the agency paid her less than the man who held her position before her because she refused sexual advances from Watt.

Although Grimes repeatedly brought up the possibility of a raise with the agency, each time she alleges Watt sexually harassed her.

Previously, Grimes explained that Watt refused to give her a raise after she rejected him, and even said that the FHFA is now mishandling the review of her allegations. She explained she didn’t want to go public but was forced to by the FHFA’s investigation.

“I did not choose to come forward publicly,” Grimes said in an interview for a Bloomberg article. “The FHFA office of the inspector general, under the leadership of Laura Wertheimer, disclosed my identity in a series of retaliatory moves designed to intimidate and bully me.”

The lawsuit claims that, “Director Watt directed her back to their prior conversations, asserting that, ‘You didn't promise me anything, and I didn't promise you anything.’ Director Watt was referencing the fact that she did not promise him sexual favors, so he did not promise her a pay increase.”

The case will be heard by Judge Christopher Cooper of the U.S. District Court District of Columbia.

Grimes previously released tapes to Politico in which Watt allegedly makes several advances toward the ex-employee while in a discussion about her salary.

“Well, you probably want to know what I wanted to talk to you about,” Watt is allegedly heard saying on the tape. “I mentioned to you there is an attraction here that I think needs to be explored. In my experience there are four types of attraction: emotional, spiritual, sexual or of friendship. So, the exercise here is to find out which one exists here.”

Currently, Watt is under investigation being led by FHFA Inspector General Laura Wertheimer, but Grimes has raised concerns about Wertheimer’s ability to lead the investigation and remain impartial.

The U.S. Postal Service is also investigating the complaint.

HousingWire reached out to Grimes for comment but had not heard back at the time of publication. This article will be updated if we receive a response.


[Editor's Note: This article has been updated to clarify Grimes' employment status with the FHFA.]

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