HR Strange But True!
April 15, 2005

A former dominatrix who hung up her wooden paddle to take a job with the U.S. Treasury Department in San Francisco has won a $35,000 settlement from the government after complaining that she was harassed by a manager--whom she identified as a client from her previous line of work.

Susan Peacher told the San Francisco Chronicle that by the time she became an analyst in 2001 for Financial Management Service, a division of the Treasury Department, she had left her side career as a dominatrix. But during her first day on the new job, she was introduced to a manager who turned out to be a former client from those days, she later alleged in court papers.

The manager proceeded to harass her by attempting to kiss her in the elevator, telling her she had "luscious lips," and repeatedly asking for "sessions," she claimed. When she objected to his advances, she said, the manager manipulatively became her direct supervisor and downgraded her performance evaluation. That led her to complain to higher-ups, even though it required disclosing her past.

"I was very afraid I would lose credibility," Peacher recalled for the Chronicle. "The Bay Area is a little more accepting than other places, but I'm a private person. While I have no shame over what I did to make a living, I didn't want to be in a position where I was judged by the choices I made."

According to her, those managers reacted by giving her a different supervisor, but the reassignment left her with little to do.

Peacher didn't give up, however. She studied the law on workplace harassment. She also accumulated lots of evidence: phone logs, e-mails, and other documentation of encounters with her manager. In June 2004, she filed a harassment and retaliation suit. Under a settlement reached last month, she received $35,000 in compensatory damages, $25,000 in attorney fees, a job transfer, approval to work from home one day a week, and the restoration of almost 800 hours of assorted leave. The government was not required to admit liability or fault.

"I don't think they expected me to fight as hard as I did," Peacher told the Chronicle.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle

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