(CN) - The FBI should not face a lawsuit from the analyst it claims to have fired after she became romantic with the son of an investigation target, the 5th Circuit ruled.
In a federal complaint for discrimination and retaliation, Bobbi-Anne Toy said the FBI actually barred her from stepping foot in her old office because her new boss at the bureau, Brett Davis, "had problems with women."
Toy said she had always gotten glowing reviews while working at the FBI's office in Beaumont, Texas, as a data and intelligence analyst employed by nonparty DynCorp.
When Davis stepped in as director of that office, however, he allegedly lodged a number of complaints about Toy, the FBI revoked her access and DynCorp fired her.
Toy denied having committed misdeeds such as installing software and buying unapproved items on FBI computers; participating in undercover operations without approval, falsely holding herself out as an FBI employee; and becoming romantically involved with the son of the target of an investigation.
DynCorp is not a party to Toy's action, which a federal judge in Texas dismissed under the national security exception to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which involves unlawful employment practices.
A three-judge panel of the New Orleans-based federal appeals court affirmed last week.
As an agency authorized to "take steps to control sensitive information," the FBI qualifies as a "security program" under subsection G of the act, the ruling states.
The FBI legally exercised its authority to protect that information from Toy, whose alleged security breaches branded her a possible threat, the court found.
"A logical step related to that security program is revocation of a contract employee's building access," Judge Jerry Smith wrote for the panel. "There is an abundance of security related confidential information at FBI offices, and access to a building would mean access to that information. Moreover, access to the premises would allow access to computer networks, which contain even more classified information, the release of which might be a threat to national security - the government contended in its motion to dismiss that Toy had accessed security information of FBI computers using other employees' credentials.
"The contract between DynCorp and the Department of Justice contemplated building access as a party of security arrangements; it makes clear that access to an office could be refused to a contract worker who acted contrary to the Department's guidelines. Even if the Beaumont office had asked for a revocation of Toy's security clearance ... common sense dictates that the FBI be allowed to suspend building access to a person who allegedly committed grave security breaches during that process," Smith added.
The opinion also cites Executive Order 12968, which gives agencies that handle classified information the right to "grant or deny, in their discretion, facility access approvals."
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