HOUSTON (CN) – A student worker claims in a federal lawsuit that her supervisor at Prairie View A&M University got her the job, forced her to perform oral sex and fired her when she complained.
The student worker, identified as Jane Doe, was coerced into performing sexual favors on her supervisor, named only as PJ, days after she began working at Prairie View A&M in November 2015, according to a 27-page complaint she filed Monday in Houston federal court.
Doe says she reported PJ’s behavior to his supervisor during the Spring 2016 semester and to the university’s Title IX office in May 2016 after he fired her.
Prairie View A&M – located in the city of Prairie View, northwest of Houston – investigated Doe’s allegations but ultimately denied they were valid, according to the complaint.
A university spokesperson said in an email Wednesday, “The allegations presented by the plaintiff to the university’s Title IX officer were investigated and were not substantiated. We are not able to comment further on pending litigation. Prairie View A&M University is committed to providing a safe environment for our students and employees.”
Doe says she chose to conceal her name and others’ identities in the complaint to protect the privacy interests of all parties.
Doe, now 22 years old with a 4-year-old daughter, began attending Prairie View A&M in spring 2013 through scholarships and financial aid.
She claims she went to an off-campus social event with her aunt in October 2015, where they met PJ. He asked to exchange phone numbers, so Doe put PJ’s number into her aunt’s phone, according to the lawsuit.
Days later, PJ contacted Doe and offered her a job at Prairie View via a grant program. She met with him for a job interview, and he said that she was “beautiful and that he would love for her to work with him,” the complaint states. Doe accepted the job and began working on Nov. 9, 2015.
On her first day, two of PJ’s co-workers met with him while she was in PJ’s office. As she was leaving, Doe overheard the men making sexually charged remarks about her – one of the men asked PJ if he was “hitting that,” and he replied, “no, not yet,” according to the lawsuit.
The alleged sexual harassment escalated within Doe’s first week of employment, she says.
“By the end of the first week, PJ started hugging Jane when she arrived to work. He started by only hugging Jane around her waist,” the complaint states. “PJ then progressed to fondling Jane’s buttocks when he hugged her.”
Confused and distraught, Doe says she was unsure how to react to PJ’s unwanted advances, so she didn’t object to the hugs and instead “stayed silent but stiff in fear of losing her job.”
The next week, she arrived in PJ’s office to start work and he locked the door, asked for a hug and told her to have a seat, according to the complaint.
“When Jane sat down, PJ placed Jane’s hand on his penis, which was erect,” the lawsuit states. “PJ then said, ‘it doesn’t bite’ and stood up in front of Jane. PJ then pulled out his penis and began touching himself.”
Doe says PJ then forced her to perform oral sex, and she believed she couldn’t leave until she did.
For the rest of the fall 2015 semester, “Jane continued to report to work but PJ’s harassment and assault had completely overwhelmed and consumed her,” the complaint states. “Jane found herself sporadically crying. She also started to gain excessive weight, and she found it difficult to concentrate in her classes.”
During the spring 2016 semester, Doe says she broke her leg and missed two weeks of work. While she was away, PJ allegedly called, texted, and told her that he “missed her.”
When she returned, according to the lawsuit, Doe decided to file an unrelated complaint over reduced hours with PJ’s immediate supervisor, identified as ER in court documents.
When PJ discovered the complaint, he “became openly hostile and rude toward Jane and continued to cut her hours,” she says.
In April 2016, Doe claims she decided to tell ER the full details of PJ’s sexual advances, but to no avail.
“ER told Jane that PJ had been a friend of his for about 20 years and that he would talk to him about her hours,” the complaint states. “ER assured Jane that contrary to Jane being fearful about losing her job, she would not and that he would right PJ’s wrongs by paying Jane out of his own pocket if it meant making the entire situation disappear.”
During that same meeting, ER allegedly suggested that Doe was a willing participant in PJ’s advances: “Unbelievably, he also told Jane, ‘You know what; I bet you really wish that PJ would bend you over his desk. It’s okay, I will tell him just screw her before she makes our lives a living hell because that’s what she really wants.’”
Shortly after Doe’s meeting with ER, PJ fired her and claimed that her position’s grant funding had expired, according to her lawsuit, even though he had just hired two more employees through that same grant program.
ER then pressured Doe to retract her report because it would “also affect the innocent members in PJ’s family,” according to the lawsuit. She was sympathetic, as his son and wife were dealing with medical issues, but nonetheless went to Prairie View’s Title IX coordinator to file a complaint.
The university’s Title IX coordinator recognized PJ’s name when Doe mentioned it during their meeting, she claims.
“Sadly, this isn’t the first, second or third complaint I’ve received involving PJ,” the coordinator allegedly told Doe, adding that PJ had a folder in her filing cabinet for complaints.
Doe could not understand why PJ was still employed at Prairie View, but the coordinator said her hands were tied, according to the lawsuit.
“Sadly, it happens all too often here at Prairie View,” the coordinator allegedly told Doe. “If it were up to me they would be out of here but it’s not, unfortunately.”
Three months after her meeting at the Title IX office, Doe claims she received a letter from the university which said that her allegations against PJ were “unsubstantiated.”
PJ and ER are not named as defendants in the lawsuit.
Doe seeks damages against Prairie View A&M University for alleged violations of Title IX and the Clery Act, which requires colleges getting federal financial aid to disclose information about crime on campus.
Her attorney, Marjorie Murphy in Houston, could not be reached for comment.