A Rockville woman filed a $20 million lawsuit against Fannie Mae in Washington D.C. court Wednesday, alleging a senior manager there who offered her a job then harassed her and pressured her into sex.
Soleil Bonnin was an adult dancer in Washington when she says she met Joseph King, a senior manager at the Federal National Mortgage Association, and told him she wanted to change careers and grow professionally, according to the complaint, filed in Washington D.C. Superior Court.
King offered Bonnin a job in July 2016 and allegedly failed to treat her like other employees by limiting her work, verbally abusing her for socializing with other employees and pulling her out of work to drink with him. Bonnin claims she feared losing her job if she did not comply with King’s requests.
King later allegedly began bringing Bonnin to hotels for sex during the workday and took her on work trips with no legitimate business purpose with his supervisor’s approval.
The complaint alleges Fannie Mae managers knew or should have known about King’s “exploitation” of Bonnin, who lived in fear of retaliation.
“Fannie Mae tolerated and fostered an environment where employees were given latitude to act improperly,” the complaint claims. “King was able to hire and retain a presumptively unqualified employee to control and exploit her for sex.”
Bonnin was granted a protective order in Montgomery County District Court in late 2017 after which Fannie Mae terminated King’s employment.
A spokesperson for Fannie Mae declined to comment on the pending lawsuit but said Thursday that the agency continues to investigate the allegations and took action immediately upon learning of the alleged misconduct.
“We have zero tolerance for sexual misconduct and harassment,” the spokesperson said in a prepared statement. “We investigate allegations whenever we are made aware of them, and we take swift and decisive action when we establish inappropriate behavior. We took swift and decisive action in this instance.”
Bonnin’s attorney, Ari Casper, called the incident “an extreme example of a high level manager using his authority and power to sexually exploit a female subordinate.”
Casper, of The Casper Firm LLC in Baltimore, also said there is a national movement to protect women from abusive behavior in the workplace.
“We need to send a message to employers that being the boss doesn’t give a person the right to intimidate and sexually harass employees,” he said.
The lawsuit accuses the defendants of discrimination under the District of Columbia Human Rights Act, negligent retention and supervision, battery, assault and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Editor’s note: This story was updated to include a statement from a Fannie Mae spokesperson.
The case is Soliel Bonnin v. Federal National Mortgage Association et al.