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Harassment Wasn’t Bad Enough, Woman Says

ST. LOUIS (CN) - A biotech company forced an employee who complained about being sexually harassed by her boss to sign a statement that she participated willingly in the harassment, the woman claims in court.

Grace N. Mueller sued Cofactor Genomics LLC in City Court.

Cofactor Genomics describes itself on its website as a contract research firm that uses DNA sequencing platforms and in-house bioinformaticians to execute experimental designs. The company says its experts have decades of experience in the Technology Development Group at the Genome Sequencing Center at Washington University in St. Louis.

Mueller claims her supervisor, Paul Washburn, used his power to force her into unwanted conversations that included topics such as the size of Washburn's genitals and sex life.

"Washburn, on numerous occasions, attempted to have plaintiff Mueller join him and his girlfriend in a 'three-way' sexual act that was unwelcome to the plaintiff," the complaint states.

The company itself is the only defendant.

Mueller claims Washburn talked about his sex life with others in the office, including Cofactor Genomics CEO Jarret Glasscock and COO Jon Armstrong.

"On numerous occasions, Washburn described to plaintiff Mueller his erections at the workplace as either being caused by plaintiff or other women," the complaint states. "These comments were unwelcome to the plaintiff.

"After describing his erections, Washburn would explain to plaintiff that he needed to masturbate while at work to relieve himself of his erections either for the plaintiff or for other women. These comments were unwelcome to the plaintiff.

"Washburn's need to masturbate at work forced plaintiff Mueller to beg him not to use her bathroom, the door of which was mere feet from her work station, because she did not want to be exposed to those acts by Washburn."

Mueller says she brought her complaints to Glasscock, who is Washburn's cousin. She claims Glasscock failed to conduct an investigation that adhered to the Cofactor Genomics employee handbook.

"As a result of plaintiff's allegation, on December 7, 2012, Glasscock forced her, by threatening to terminate her employment with Cofactor, to sign an agreement saying that she participated in the inappropriate conversations willingly and that Cofactor had responded in accordance with the employee handbook," the complaint states.

Mueller says she resigned that day, after being forced to sign the agreement.

She seeks actual and punitive damages for gender discrimination.

She is represented by Dale R. Funk with Brown & Crouppen.

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