SAN DIEGO – The City Council Tuesday gave final approval to a $250,000 settlement for an employee who sued the city of San Diego and former Mayor Bob Filner over sexual harassment.
The approval of the deal with ex-mayoral Communications Director Irene McCormack Jackson was made unanimously and without comment by the council members.
One member of the public said it was unethical to use the lawsuit in order to push out a sitting mayor. It was mediation over McCormack Jackson’s litigation that led the then-70-year-old mayor to resign last August after less than nine months in office. The City Attorney’s Office agreed to defend Filner in exchange for his agreement to step down.
McCormack Jackson, represented by Los Angeles-based women’s rights lawyer Gloria Allred, alleged the then-mayor told her she should work without her panties on, that he wanted to see her naked and that he was eager to “consummate” their relationship.
She also contended that the former congressman demanded kisses and put his arm around her and dragged her along in a headlock while making sexual remarks.
Filner later pleaded guilty to to one felony count of false imprisonment and two misdemeanor counts of battery and was sentenced in December to three years probation, including three months of home confinement.
According to City Attorney Jan Goldsmith, state law holds the city as an employer strictly liable for sexual harassment conduct of a supervisor, including the mayor, directed at a municipal employee. Preparing for trial, which was scheduled to begin Feb. 20 of next year, would have cost both sides more than the settlement amount, he said.
McCormack Jackson has been on unpaid leave. Under the settlement, her municipal employment will terminate on April 1.
Cases filed by two other women who sued Filner over his alleged misconduct are still pending.
Stacy McKenzie, a city employee like McCormack Jackson, contends the ex- mayor grabbed her from behind, put her in a headlock and rubbed her breasts at an event at a city park.
Michelle Tyler was seeking help for a friend, a Marine veteran, when she says Filner demanded a personal and sexual relationship.
A claim by another city employee was resolved before it became a lawsuit when the City Council honored great-grandmother Peggy Shannon Monday, and Goldsmith read her an official apology.
Shannon, who worked at the senior services desk in the City Hall lobby, contended that Filner repeatedly asked her out and one time grabbed her and kissed her on the lips.