MELISSA BLOCK, host:
We have a postscript now to a story we brought you last April, in the thick of a Justice Department scandal over politicized hiring and firing. NPR's Ari Shapiro first reported on a woman who was removed from her job over a rumor that she was a lesbian. Today, Ari has some news.
ARI SHAPIRO: By many accounts, Leslie Hagen was the most qualified person in the country for her job. In 2006, she was the liaison between the main Justice Department and the U.S. Attorneys' Committee on Native American Affairs. Her performance evaluations were the best they could possibly be. She was rated outstanding in every one of five categories. Her job came up for renewal every year. And after the first year, she was surprised to hear that she would have to move on. It turns out a top aide to the attorney general had heard a rumor that Hagen was lesbian. Discrimination based on sexual orientation is against Justice Department rules.
But Monica Goodling, senior counselor to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, had Leslie Hagen removed from her job, anyway. That was more than a year ago. After NPR broke the story, the inspector general confirmed those details and added new ones. They said Goodling not only ousted Hagen, Goodling also blocked her from getting other Justice Department jobs she was qualified for. Well, last year, the Justice Department posted Hagen's old job again. Applications came in from around the country. The department did a national search, conducted several rounds of interviews, and eventually offered the job to Leslie Hagen.
So today, it's official. Hagen has her old job back. This time, it's a little different. Her contract does not come up for renewal every year. So her job is permanent. Leslie Hagen's back for good. It is not a perfectly happy ending for her. Nobody official from the department ever apologized for what had happened, and she still owes thousands of dollars in attorney fees. The Justice Department has refused to pay those bills. That was the department's position under the Bush administration, anyway. Hagen's attorney says her client hopes the new attorney general will take a different view.
Ari Shapiro, NPR News, Washington.
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