She has been blocked from committee assignments
U.S. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D., Texas) has resigned as chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation after a former intern sued her and the CBCF in federal court. The intern accused the coordinator of the internship program of sexually assaulting her.
The CBCF and Jackson Lee conspired to retaliate against Ms. Doe, the named plaintiff, after one of Lee’s top aides told Lee that Doe planned to file a lawsuit in the U. S. District Court in Washington, DC.
In a 20-page lawsuit filed January 11, Doe, claimed she was forced to perform oral sex on Damien Jones, 30, internship program coordinator for the CBCF. The sexual assault occurred on October 24, 2015. Lee became chair of the CBCF in April 2017. The Foundation is the non-profit arm of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Doe was later offered a job with Congresswoman Lee. On her first day on the job, Doe learned that Jones also wanted to join Lee’s staff. Doe told one other person that she would be uncomfortable working with Jones because he assaulted her.
Lee fired Doe in March of 2018 without giving her a reason. She attempted to meet with Lee several times, but she was rebuffed, according the lawsuit.
Doe says she has suffered from marked anxiety since being attacked by Jones.
Doe said she cut her hair and lost 50 pounds so men wouldn’t find her attractive. She also became anxious around men because of what had happened.
The lawsuit names U.S. Representative Sheila Jackson Lee and the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation.
It charges that Lee violated the Congressional Accountability Act by retaliating against Doe. The firing also violated the District of Columbia’s Human Rights Code. Doe also alleges she suffered emotional distress and that the firing interfered with her contractual rights and her professional relationships. She returned home to Alabama where she is seeking employment.
Doe is seeking $150,000 in damages from Lee and the CBCF.
Lee’s resignation as CBCF chair follows the announcement that she will not become chair of the House Judiciary Committee’s crime, terrorism and homeland security committee. She had been in line to become the committee’s chair.
Some members of Congress were afraid that if Lee became chair her presence would derail work on the Violence Against Women Act, which she sponsored in 2018.
Lee, who represents Texas’s 18th district, which includes Houston, is serving her 11th year in Congress. She is a graduate of Yale University and the University of Virginia Law School. A native of Queens, New York, Lee is 69 years old.
Jerrold Nadler, Judiciary Committee Chair, said Lee voluntarily decided to step down. Nadler is a New York Democrat. Lee has also been excluded from all subcommittee chairs.
Lee is considered one the worst bosses on Capitol Hill. Between 2001 and 2016, Lee had the highest staff turnover in the House of Representatives, according to The Daily Caller, a conservative publication. U.S. Representative Karen Bass, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, will serve as chair of the House Judiciary Committee until the issue is resolved. Between 2001-2016, Bass was called one the worst bosses on Capitol Hill also because of her high staff turnover.