The 17-page suit, filed in New York, is seeking unspecified compensation alleging a "violent and sadistic attack" in the Manhattan Sofitel room where Nafissatou Diallo went to clean Strauss-Kahn's luxury room on May 14.
It comes as prosecutors decide whether to drop the sexual assault charges the former head of the International Monetary Fund and powerful French political figure after questions were raised about Diallo's credibility.
The civil suit alleged "sexual assault, battery, false imprisonment and intentional infliction of emotional distress upon Ms Diallo, whom he sexually assaulted as she attempted to do her job as a housekeeper", AFP reports.
Strauss-Kahn, the suit said, "intentionally, brutally and violently sexually assaulted Ms Diallo and in the process humiliated, degraded, violated and robbed Ms Diallo of her dignity as a woman."
It said that the "severe mental anguish" she experienced was so great that "she may never recover."
The filing says Strauss-Kahn bruised her vagina, injured her shoulder, tore her underwear and violently grabbed the back of her head in the alleged 14 May attack, BBC reports.
The suit requested a jury trial in the Bronx neighborhood of New York.
Strauss-Kahn, who is on bail in New York, is due to appear in court on the criminal charges on August 23.
Diallo's lawyer, Kenneth Thompson, said in court papers that he was prepared to introduce testimony from other women who say they were attacked by Strauss-Kahn in “hotel rooms around the world,” and in apartments specifically used by him “for the purpose of covering up his crimes", the New York Times reports.
A civil suit may be his client's only way to seek justice, AFP reports.
Thompson says his client risks being abandoned by prosecutors - the district attorney's office has publicly called into question Diallo's credibility after it was discovered she lied on her refugee application to the U.S. about her life in native Guinea.
The timing of the lawsuit was unusual as most accusers would wait until the criminal case is finalized before proceeding with a civil matter, the New York Times reports.
The NYT reports:
Nonetheless, the action seemed noteworthy for its choice of jurisdiction.
The housekeeper, a Guinean immigrant, lives in the Bronx, and jurors there may be more sympathetic to an African woman’s claims against a powerful Frenchman than jurors would be in Manhattan, where the encounter occurred.
Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers, William W. Taylor III and Benjamin Brafman, said in a statement that Thompson and his client were motivated by making money out of the case.
“The filing of this lawsuit ends any doubt on that question,” the statement said. “The civil suit has no merit and Mr. Strauss-Kahn will defend it vigorously.”