Friday, December 14, 2012

Another Sexual Harassment Allegation Made Against NYCDOE Honcho

Sexual harassment and sexual discrimination charges have been made against a top NYCDOE executive for the second time this school year:
A second female Board of Education worker has come forward with explosive charges against a top official, saying women were encouraged to view his genitals.

Heidi Husser, 50, director of labor relations for the division of school facilities, claims in a federal suit the Education Department office “encouraged a culture of sexism” where women were underpaid and forced to endure the vulgar treatment of their male bosses.

She is the second Division of School Facilities employee to bring a suit against the city over unequal pay and sexual harassment. Staffer Sheila Dancy-Wilkins filed a similar case in September.

Both women claim that chief executive officer John Shea, 45, was the lecherous ringleader in a raunchy work environment that resembled a frat house.

“His behavior was outrageous,” said Husser, an attorney who started at the Education Department in 2008. “He thought he could get away with it because he was well-liked.”

As the $182,588-a-year director of the office that cleans and maintains 1,300 school buildings around the city, Shea is one of the highest paid staffers on the education payroll.

According to court filings Wednesday, the 45-year-old boss once told Husser that his nickname was “Mosquito” because his genitals were small and he “could get it done without women knowing they were stung.”

Shea also frequently changed in the office conference room before going on afternoon jogs and told staffers when he wasn’t wearing underwear, the suit says.

Husser also alleged that Shea once produced a computer tablet with his picture in a skimpy bathing suit.

“He brought the tablet up to my face and used his fingers to zoom in on his crotch,” Husser said. “He wanted to make sure I saw his Speedo and his package.”

Husser, of Long Island, said her boss’ abusive behavior triggered panic attacks that she had to treat with medication.

Husser and Dancy-Wilkins both claim they were paid more than $40,000 less than male counterparts who did similar work and that 12 of 14 directors in their division were men.

Shea, who has been CEO since 2008, did not return calls from the Daily News. A source said he is single but lives with a girlfriend.

Husser’s suit seeks nearly $1 million in damages. A city Law Department spokeswoman said the office had not yet received the suit and declined to comment.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks his mind and that is a big part of his cachet in anything-goes New York.

But new details from a sexual harassment lawsuit he settled in 2000 and other racy comments over the years show how his blunt style could prove a liability if he runs for president as an independent.
Before his election as mayor in 2001, Bloomberg was the target of a sexual harassment suit by a female executive who accused him of making repeated raunchy sexual comments while he was chief executive of his financial company, Bloomberg LP.
Among the allegations in the complaint:

—Bloomberg asked the woman who sued if she was giving her boyfriend "good" oral sex.

—He said "I'd like to do that" and "That's a great piece of a—" to describe women in the office.

—When he found out the woman was pregnant, he told her "Kill it!" and said "Great! Number 16!"

— an apparent reference to the number of women in the company who were pregnant or had maternity-related status.

Bloomberg denied the accusations. Both sides were barred from commenting because of confidentiality agreements

The EEOC took Bloomberg LP to court over sexual discrimination and lost.  Bloomberg paid off the women he harassed himself and got non-disclosure agreements as part of the settlement, so he never paid publicly for his behavior.

Nonetheless, it looks like Bloomberg's government, or at least one department in it, runs a lot like the way Bloomberg LP did when the mayor was heading the company.

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