Democratic Representative Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas and the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation are in big trouble.
A former employee of Jackson Lee’s alleges that the congresswoman fired her after learning that the employee planned a lawsuit against the foundation, which Jackson Lee chairs, because one of its officials raped her.
The nut of the lawsuit, in which the plaintiff is unidentified, is this:
[Jane] Doe worked as a CBCF intern in the Fall of 2015, and as Special Assistant and Director of Public Engagement for The Office of Representative Sheila Jackson Lee from November of 2017 — March of 2018. The Office of Representative Sheila Jackson Lee and CBCF (for which Representative Jackson Lee serves as the Board Chair) unlawfully retaliated against Ms. Doe after Ms. Doe threatened to sue the CBCF because another CBCF employee ... raped Ms. Doe while he was Ms. Doe’s supervisor.
If true, the young woman’s harrowing tale is certain to present a problem for Democrats: what to do with Jackson Lee? A resolution condeming rape? Censure. Expulsion?
After a fundraising event for CBCF, Doe’s boss at CBCF, asked her out to dinner, the lawsuit alleges. He was 30, she was 19 — a student at Howard University and a congressional intern.
The two drank margaritas, then took an Uber to the official’s house. They stopped at a liquor store on the way, where he bought some booze. Back at his place, Doe told the CBCF official that she couldn’t drink anything more and needed to leave. The man pulled out a pot pipe and some of the Devil’s Lettuce.
Things went downhill from there, the lawsuit alleges. Doe texted a friend for “help” because she was “ready to cry,” but couldn’t tell the friend where to pick her up because she didn’t know where she was.
The end result of the evening was forced oral sex, a shower scene, and the next morning, awaking naked in the executive’s bed.
Doe went to the hospital, where a sexual assault nurse examined her and found evidence of rough sexual activity. Doe reported the rape to police. DNA evidence, it appears from the the lawsuit, was weak at best and likely inconclusive.
Lost Her Job
At the time of the rape, Doe, again, was a college student. After graduation, she worked in New York briefly, then returned to D.C. and landed a job in Jackson Lee’s office as the “Special Assistant and Director of Public Engagement.” The lawsuit describes a secretarial job with some important duties, such as drafting policy statements.
Doe’s first day on the job must have been a frightening one. Her assailant had applied for a job there, the lawsuit alleges. Doe revealed the rape to her supervisor, who didn’t hire the man.
Jackson Lee became chair of the CBCF in April 2017, and in November, Doe, who screened the congresswoman’s e-mail and maintained her cellphone, intercepted a message from CBCF that urged Jackson Lee to call the sender, who had “background” on Doe.
On March 9 last year, the lawsuit alleges, Doe disclosed that she planned legal action against CBCF because of the rape. She requested a meeting with Jackson Lee. The congresswoman refused.
Two weeks later, Jackson Lee fired Doe. The reason: budget cuts.
The lawsuit alleges that Jackson Lee and CBCF “conspired to retaliate” against Doe because she planned the lawsuit, and more importantly that “CBCF encouraged” the congresswoman to fire Doe “to inflict emotional distress ... so that she would not pursue her legal claims against CBCF.”
In other words, Jackson Lee was trying to protect CBCF from Doe’s lawsuit.
As the Daily Caller reported, Jackson Lee is notorious on the Hill. “Data compiled at the congressional employment portal LegiStorm shows a 59 percent turnover rate on her staff between 2001 and 2017,” The DC reported. “Washingtonian magazine has repeatedly styled Jackson Lee the meanest member of the House. Former aides have described the congresswoman’s behavior as derisive and erratic.”
As well, “another former aide sued the congresswoman in 2011, alleging Jackson Lee persistently disregarded her ocular disability and intentionally cultivated a hostile work environment. That lawsuit was dismissed in 2015.”
The question, again, is what Democrats will do with Jackson Lee if Doe prevails in court or by settlement, given their hasty condemnation of “white supremacy” because of GOP Representative Steve King’s comments to the New York Times.
Jackson Lee fired an employee in her capacity as a member of the House. King’s comments to the Times occurred outside that capacity.
Image of Sheila Jackson Lee: House.gov