Nov. 9, 2011 — -- Karen Kraushaar, who settled a sexual harassment complaint against Republican presidential frontrunner Herman Cain in 1999, filed a different complaint at her next job four years later, accusing a manager of sending out a sexually suggestive email and asking to be allowed to work at home after a car accident.
Kraushaar made the complaint, which did not involve a claim of sexual harassment, while working at the Immigration and Naturalization Service in 2003. Her lawyer was Joel Bennett, the same lawyer who had handled her harassment complaint against Herman Cain at the National Restaurant Association.
Kraushaar was injured in a car accident at an intersection in late 2002. After the accident, Kraushaar asked to be allowed to work from home. She filed the complaint when her repeated requests to work at home were denied, according to a former supervisor. The former supervisor told ABC News that Kraushaar wanted a "large payout" of tens of thousands of dollars, a year-long fellowship at Harvard, a raise and the reinstatement of sick leave.
Kraushaar, now 55, told the Associated Press she considered the complaint "relatively minor" and she later dropped it. "The concern was that there may have been discrimination on the job and that I was being treated unfairly," said Kraushaar, who also said she did not remember the specifics of her demands in the complaint. Bennett told the AP he could not comment on the complaint because it was confidential.
When reporters asked Bennett Wednesday if there was a "pattern" of complaints from Kraushaar, he said, "My client is 55 years old and she has been employed for approximately 30 years. During the course of employment sometimes people have complaints or grievances, and our position is that any other complaints or grievances that she's had in her lengthy employment career are irrelevant to whether or not this specific complaint in 1999 was baseless."
Kraushaar's former supervisor at the INS, who was named in Kraushaar's complaint, characterized the 2003 complaint to ABC News as "frivolous," and said Kraushaar may have been offered a few extra sick days as compensation.
The supervisor alleged that Kraushaar had a "poor work ethic."
The supervisor, a self-described Democrat, decided to speak out about Kraushaar's complaint because of "doubts about her credibility."
Maria Cardona, who also supervised Kraushaar at INS, told CNN that Kraushaar was an "ideal employee," and said her credibility was "beyond reproach."
"She was the utmost professional, one of the hardest working individuals I have ever known," said Cardona, "the consummate team player."
Three former supervisors confirmed the existence of Kraushaar's INS complaint to the AP.
Karen Kraushaar Works for Treasury Department
Kraushaar left the INS in 2003 to go work for the IRS. She is now communications director for the Treasury Department's Inspector General for Tax Administration.
According to media reports, Kraushaar received $45,000 from the National Restaurant Association after filing an internal complaint against Cain. Kraushaar's attorney, Joel Bennett, has said that the complaint involved multiple unwanted advances by Cain over the course of "at least a month or two."
Herman Cain has characterized Kraushaar's complaint against him as baseless, and says that all he remembers is making an innocuous gesture while she was in his office with the door open and his secretary just outside. "I referenced this lady's height and I was standing near her, and I did this saying, you're the same height of my wife, because my wife is five feet tall and she comes up to my chin," Cain explained to CNN. "This lady's five feet tall and she came up to my chin. So obviously she thought that that was too close for comfort. It showed up in the actual allegation."
Four different women have accused Cain of sexual harassment. He has categorically denied the charges. "I have never acted inappropriately with anyone, period," said Cain during a press conference Tuesday. "The charges and the accusations I absolutely reject: They simply didn't happen. They simply did not happen."