Former property manager with Pittsburgh Housing Authority claims sexual harassment

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A former property manager with the Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh sued that agency today, saying she was sexually harassed and then fired in part because she was falsely accused of the same.

Janell Walker, 38, of Hazelwood, was hired by the authority in 2000, and in 2003 went to a training session in Cleveland, according to the complaint. There, property manager Frank O'Leary "insisted" that she "engage in an inappropriate relationship," according to the complaint filed by attorney Samuel Cordes. She refused, and he was "not happy," Mr. Cordes wrote.

In August 2012, according to the complaint, Ms. Walker was assigned to report to Mr. O'Leary. He then "required her to remain [in his office] for periods of time spanning anywhere from two to five hours," where he would ask her to view his computer screen and then claim that she "was acting unprofessionally by leaning on O'Leary's desk," according to the complaint.

Ms. Walker complained and was fired in January 2013, ostensibly because "she was tardy and ... engaged in 'sexual harassment' of O'Leary," according to the complaint. She denied engaging in harassment.

In the complaint she claims that the authority allowed sexual harassment leading to a hostile work environment, and retaliated against her for complaining. She demanded a return to work with back pay and compensatory and punitive damages.

Authority general counsel James Harris had no immediate comment, and Mr. O'Leary could be reached for comment.


Rich Lord: rlord@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1542. Twitter: @richelord.

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