A black FBI agent who charged in civil suits he was racially harassed by white agents will receive full pay and pension benefits, possibly worth more than $1 million, under a settlement of the case, his lawyer said yesterday.
Attorneys for Donald Rochon, 40, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation signed an agreement Wednesday that settles the three-year-old legal battle arising from the agent's charges that he was harassed by white colleagues when he worked in the Chicago office.
The settlement is a further admission by the FBI of racial problems in its ranks. Officials earlier this year acknowledged that the FBI had settled three other racial discrimination suits, including one involving 30 employees of the fingerprint identification division.
Rochon, who has been on disability leave since April because of emotional stress, will receive full compensation and full pension benefits under the terms of the settlement, said his attorney, David Kairys of Philadelphia.
Rochon will remain on disability leave until he is eligible to retire in 11 years, Kairys said. "He never wants to go back to the FBI," the lawyer said.
The FBI has also agreed to award Rochon some back pay for a promotion the agent claims he was unfairly denied, Kairys said. It will also pay Rochon's former wife, Susan, a sum of money, he said. The settlement package could be worth more than a million dollars, he said.
The FBI also agreed to investigate Rochon's claims and make public its findings by April, he said.
Rochon will be paid the average salary of FBI agents who joined the bureau when he did in 1981, taking into account promotions that some of his colleagues received, Kairys said. This provision of the settlement gives Rochon the so-called "front pay" allowed in civil rights law for employees who are forced to leave hostile work environments.
Rochon claimed his family received threatening telephone calls and letters, including one that contained a picture of the dismembered body of a black man. Another contained a bull's eye superimposed on a picture of a black man.