A former employee is suing the office of Rep. Blake Farenthold for gender discrimination and creating a hostile work environment, alleging the Texas Republican sexually harassed and wrongfully fired her.
According to court documents filed Monday and first discovered by the National Law Journal, the congressman "regularly drank to excess" and admitted to another employee that he had "sexual fantasies" and "wet dreams" about Lauren Greene, the plaintiff and former communications director.
Greene alleges in her suit that the congressman regularly made comments meant to "gauge whether Plaintiff was interested in a sexual relationship," and that when she complained to her chief of staff, Bob Haueter, he cut her out of key meetings.
Less than a month after she brought her concerns about Haueter to Farenthold, Greene was fired, she alleges.
"As is the case with any pending legal situation, the Congressman cannot comment on the specifics of the complaint, however, it goes without saying that both the Congressman and the members of his staff who are included in this complaint have a very different view of the allegations than Ms. Greene," said Farenthold spokesman Kurt Bardella. "For the record, the Office did not and does not discriminate based on sex or any other unlawful factor. The Congressman is eager to respond to Ms. Greene's allegations through the appropriate legal process and is confident that once all of the facts are revealed, he will be cleared of any wrongdoing."
Greene alleges that Farenthold regularly commented about her appearance and mode of dress in a way that made her uncomfortable.
"On one specific occasion, Farenthold told Greene that she had something on her skirt and that he hoped his comment wouldn't be taken for sexual harassment. A reasonable person would infer that Farenthold was joking that she had semen on her skirt," according to court documents.
Greene describes her relationship with Farenthold as awkward. During a staff meeting, he once mentioned that a female lobbyist had proposed a "threesome," according to court documents. And, while her predecessor in the communications director position regularly met with the congressman in one-on-one settings, Farenthold rarely scheduled such meetings with her, which Greene noted made her job difficult. In addition, court documents say she felt "anxious to avoid private meetings, because she knew about his fantasies about her. "
The plaintiff also alleges that Farenthold said he had been estranged from his wife and has not had sex with her in years, and that at social functions, the office had to be on "red-head patrol" to keep the congressman from having trysts.
Greene is seeking back pay and financial compensation for economic and emotional damages she allegedly suffered, which included "embarrassment, humiliation, loss of enjoyment of life, sleeplessness and feelings of depression and anxiety."
The news comes the same week as Farenthold's office had to explain his ownership of the website blowme.org.
Daniel Newhauser is a staff correspondent for National Journal, where he primarily covers the House of Representatives. He was formerly a House leadership reporter for Roll Call, where he started as an intern in 2010 and quickly earned a slot as a beat reporter.
A native of San Antonio, Texas, Newhauser traveled further West to study journalism at Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and write for newspapers including the East Valley Tribune and the Green Valley News & Sun.