Tuesday, April 12, 2005

News of the weird

An odd twist for an ex-dominatrix / S&M specialist-turned-bureaucrat says she endured harassment from her superior -- a former client

When Susan Peacher hung up her latex evening gown and wooden paddle for a job with the federal government, the former dominatrix thought she was done with abuse.

She went to work for the Treasury Department in San Francisco, but when she arrived at her new job, she found that one of the office managers was a former client.

This man wouldn't leave her alone, she said in a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit, charging that he sexually harassed her, attempting to kiss her in the elevator, telling her she had "luscious lips,'' and repeatedly asking for "sessions.''

When she objected to the salacious advances, Peacher says, the manager manipulatively became her direct supervisor and downgraded her performance evaluation. When she complained to higher-ups, coming out of the closet about her previous line of work, she says she was retaliated against and given little to do.

Rather than sit idly at her desk, Peacher spent her time studying workplace harassment and labor law. She also accumulated an arsenal of damning evidence: phone logs, e-mails, documentation of encounters with her alleged harasser.

Last month, Peacher, 45, reached a settlement with the government, which did not admit liability or fault. She will receive $35,000 in compensatory damages, $25,000 in attorney fees, a job transfer, approval to work at her South Bay home one day a week, and the restoration of almost 800 hours of assorted leave.

If San Francisco ever feels the need to do an I (heart) SF"-style PR campaign, I sure hope this story gets used.


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