Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) resigned as the chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation on Wednesday amid an ongoing lawsuit filed by one of her former staffers.
Jackson Lee, a 13-term congresswoman, has been accused of unlawfully firing the former employee who brought forward claims of a sexual assault that allegedly happened while she was working at the CBCF. The congresswoman has vehemently denied the accusation but chose to give up her position on the foundation’s board after other members gave her an ultimatum last week.
The New York Times first reported that Jackson Lee faced pressure to step aside after other members said they could vote to remove her if she did not give up the post. Jackson Lee also temporarily gave up the chairmanship of a House Judiciary subcommittee on crime and terrorism after facing similar pressure from other House Democrats.
The lawmaker had initially refused to give up her seats but changed her mind, according to Politico.
The staffer, who is not named, filed the suit last week and alleges she was unlawfully fired for pursuing legal action over a 2015 sexual assault. The woman, identified only as Jane Doe, accused a former employee of the CBCF of assaulting her when she was a 19-year-old intern.
Doe later got a job in Jackson Lee’s office in late 2017 and said she was working in good standing until March of last year when she shared her plans to sue the foundation over the past assault. Doe said she was fired just days later, but the lawmaker’s office linked the termination to “budget concerns.”
The CBCF has said it would cooperate with an investigation into Doe’s claims, saying it was “deeply concerned about the welfare of all our interns.”