DC Circuit Court Reverses Summary Judgment Decision
Washington, D.C. July 23, 2012 – On Friday, July 20, 2012, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia issued a decision remanding FBI Supervisory Special Agent Bassem Youssef’s discrimination case back to the District Court for further proceedings. This decision allows Agent Youssef to continue his case against the FBI for its discrimination against him following the September 11, 2001 attack.
In 2002, Agent Youssef filed a complaint with the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission (EEOC) that FBI discriminated against him on the
basis of his national origin and religion when they transferred him to a
document review position in DocEx program of the Counterterrorism
Division. This position did not use Agent Youssef’s skills as a
highly-decorated counterterrorism Agent.
In 2008, the District Court entered summary judgment against Mr.
Youssef's discrimination claim, concluding that Agent Youssef had not
shown that he suffered a materially adverse action. The Court of
Appeals reversed this decision and stated, “reassignment with
significantly different responsibilities…generally indicates an adverse
action.” The Appeals Court remanded the case to the District Court for
further examination of the FBI’s reason for the transfer.
Bassem Youssef began his career at the FBI in 1988 and is a
highly-decorated FBI Agent. Agent Youssef is an Egyptian-born American
citizen who immigrated to the United States in 1972. As a native Arabic
speaker, he is the highest-ranking Arab-American in the FBI. Agent
Youssef has coordinated major investigations into Middle Eastern
terrorist groups. One such investigation in an al-Qaeda-related
terrorism case led to the Director of Central Intelligence awarding him
the prestigious 1994 National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal.
In 1996, he was promoted to the position of Legal Attaché in Riyadh,
Saudi Arabia. However, despite excellent performance reviews, after the
attacks of September 11, 2001 the FBI transferred him to document review
position that was well below his skill level. Agent Youssef is now the
Unit Chief of the Communications Analysis Unit of the FBI’s
Counterterrorism Division. Click here to read more about Agent Youssef.
Stephen M. Kohn, NWC Executive Director and attorney for Agent Youssef issued the following statement:
The FBI actions against Supervisory Special Agent Bassem Youssef
undermined the War on Terror by allowing prejudices against
Arab-Americans to cloud the judgment of America’s “premier” law
enforcement agency. The FBI’s discriminatory treatment of Agent Youssef
and its failure to utilize his exceptional skills is a stain on the
history of the FBI. With this court ruling, we hope that the FBI can
commence a process to correct its egregious mistakes, and that Mr.
Youssef will again be able to perform the work he was trained to do.
The terrorist attacks of 9/11 provided no legitimate reason for
discrimination and retaliation against law-abiding Arab-Americans.