Former Museum Of Sex Employee Files Lawsuit Over Sexual Harassment

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Mary Margaret Olohan Social Issues Reporter
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A former tour guide at the New York Museum of Sex claimed Wednesday that workers at the museum often experience sexual harassment from drunken customers.

Katherine McMahon said in a lawsuit filed with the Manhattan Supreme Court that employees at the museum were often groped or sexually harassed by the museum’s customers. McMahon formerly worked as a part-time tour guide at the Museum of Sex.

The suit says that employees are subjected to a variety of inappropriate behavior, according to The New York Daily News.

“The Museum of Sex has a problem keeping their employees free from sexual harassment,” the suit reads. “Patrons and co-workers of the museum grope its employees, use utterly inappropriate sexual language, and inquire into employees’ private sex lives.”

McMahon, who was paid $13.25 an hour, would lead tours throughout the museum where she often felt unsafe as there was no proper protocol for her to alert security if things became out of hand. On one tour, two guests asked McMahon if she would spank them after she told them they could not have sex in a bounce house exhibit.

When staff complained to management about this type of behavior, management reportedly failed to properly respond. Staff sent a letter to management in which workers expressed concern over the extension of the museum’s hours which allowed an increase in drunken customers.

NEW YORK, UNITED STATES: People pass by the Museum of Sex, located on 5th Ave in New York City, 25 September 2002. The museum, scheduled to open to the public 28 September, delves into the histories of prostitution, burlesque, birth control, obscenity, fetish, and includes never-before exhibited selections from public and private collections, including materials once confiscated and classified as obscene. The museum boasts that these primary sources of social history -- letters, photographs, films and newspapers -- reveal how it has been possible in New York, more than in any other US city, to form communities around Sex and Sexuality. AFP PHOTO Timothy A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

NEW YORK, UNITED STATES: People pass by the Museum of Sex, located on 5th Ave in New York City, 25 September 2002. (Photo credit TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

“The presence of intoxicated people in the galleries has risen to an unacceptable level,” staff told management in the letter cited in the suit. “Drunk people are the majority of people who sexually harass and grope staff. Groping is a sexual assault, which is illegal, and should not be tolerated by the museum.”

“Almost every woman who works here has dealt with sexual harassment and assault,” the letter added. (RELATED: New York Lawmakers Introduce Decriminalizing Sex Work)

McMahon quit her job at the museum in December and cited in the suit that this was because of “exacerbated post-traumatic stress disorder, hypervigilance, paranoia, anxiety, depression, and severe emotional distress including, but not limited to, fear of men, fear of reporting sexual harassment, and hopelessness.”

McMahon also cited concerns that the museum did not accommodate her endometriosis.

The Museum said in a statement to The New York Daily News that they were disappointed that McMahon decided to pursue a lawsuit.

“We are disappointed by Ms. McMahon’s decision to file a lawsuit and take her meritless case into the public arena,” museum spokesman Tripp Potts said. “The Museum of Sex makes every effort to protect its employees, and Ms. McMahon’s allegations to the contrary are unfounded. Further, the museum repeatedly and consistently accommodated Ms. McMahon’s medical needs, and would have continued to do so had she not elected to voluntarily resign her employment.”

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