University settles harassment suit

A former GW housekeeper who sued the University for alleged sexual discrimination by her supervisor settled with the school out of court this month.

Helen Fisher, a former facilities management employee, sued the University in March 2008 for violating the Civil Rights Act, requesting a $6 million judgment. She reached a settlement with the University on Jan. 15, the terms of which were undisclosed.

A civil complaint filed in federal court states that Fisher’s supervisor began sexually harassing her in February 2005. Fisher said the supervisor asked when she would have sex with him, offered Fisher money if she would dance for him and put his arms around her and pressed his body against hers, court documents state.

A co-worker “grabbed her breasts in the elevator,” the complaint continues. “Ms. Fisher was forced to fight off this assault and run to escape.”

Fisher said she was subjected to at least six instances of sexual harassment over six months, the complaint said.

Fisher reported these incidents to managers within the facilities department twice, the complaint said, but no action was taken. She was terminated from employment with GW in April 2007, according to court documents.

University spokeswoman Tracy Schario said GW does not comment on personnel matters.

According to University policy, employees who feel they have been sexually harassed may consult with a Sexual Harassment Response Coordinator or request an administrative review. If these informal procedures fail to resolve the problem, a formal hearing procedure can be initiated.

Fisher’s attorney, John Pressley, declined to comment.

“Ms. Fisher’s case is concluded and neither she nor I are in a position to discuss any details related to it,” he said.

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