A former employee of Congressman Blake Farenthold (R-Tex.) filed suit against her old boss on Friday, alleging she was the victim of a hostile work environment, gender discrimination, and ultimately fired in retaliation for raising concerns about her treatment to her superiors.
The suit brought by Lauren Greene—first reported by the National Law Journal—paints an unflattering picture of Farenthold and his chief of staff, Bob Haueter. Greene says she started on the two-term congressman’s staff in Feb. 2013 as the new media director after three years working elsewhere on the Hill.
Here was the general tone of the congressman’s office, according to the lawsuit. “Farenthold regularly drank to excess, and because of his tendency to flirt, the staffers who accompanied him to Capitol Hill functions would joke that they had to be on ‘red head patrol’ to keep him out of trouble,” the suit reads. “On one occasion, prior to February 2014, during a staff meeting at which Plaintiff was in attendance, Farenthold disclosed that a female lobbyist had propositioned him for a ‘threesome.’”
Greene also says Farenthold “regularly made comments designed to gauge whether [Greene] was interested in a sexual relationship.” Here’s more on how she says she was treated by the congressman and his chief of staff Bob Haueter.
…Plaintiff confided in Emily Wilkes (who was Congressman Farenthold’s Executive Assistant), that Farenthold was awkward toward Plaintiff and ignored her. In response, Wilkes informed Plaintiff that Farenthold had admitted to being attracted to Plaintiff and to having “sexual fantasies” and “wet dreams” about Plaintiff…
In a June 10, 2014 meeting with Farenthold and Wilkes, Haueter proclaimed that he was going to send Plaintiff home to change clothes because Haueter claimed he could see Plaintiff’s nipple through her shirt. Wilkes then had to insist that she would convey Haueter’s concerns to Plaintiff. Neither Wilkes nor Farenthold considered Plaintiff’s shirt to be inappropriate or revealing…
On June 12, 2014, Plaintiff had a breakfast meeting with Farenthold to discuss Haueter’s hostile treatment of her. During that meeting, Plaintiff complained to Farenthold that Haueter was bullying her and treating her in a very hostile fashion. Farenthold replied that Haueter was known to be condescending toward women on the staff, and then paid empty, lip service encouragement for Plaintiff to stand up for herself… Plaintiff was fired less than one month after she complained about the hostile work environment to Congressman Farenthold.
“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,” a spokesman for Farenthold said in statement on Tuesday. “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.”
As a (sort of) side note, BuzzFeed’s Andrew Kaczynski reported Friday that Farenthold is also a cyber squatting Internet frontiersman and proud owner of the domain name blow-me.org. “The website was registered by Farenthold when he owned a computer consulting business,” Kaczynski points out. “A spokesman told BuzzFeed News Rep. Farenthold would not be renewing the domain.”
There’s also this:
*Update, Dec. 16, 2014: This post was updated to attribute the first reporting of Rep. Farenthold’s domain name registration to BuzzFeed.