A municipal employee was honored today by the San Diego City Council for her civic contributions and courage in coming forward with a sexual harassment claim against former Mayor Bob Filner.
An apology and proclamation declaring it “Peggy Shannon Day” in San Diego were part of the settlement of the claim brought by the great- grandmother, who worked at the Senior Services desk in the lobby of City Hall when Filner was mayor.
“You showed character, integrity and courage,” Councilman Scott Sherman told Shannon. “I was brought up and have lived my life that you do the right thing, and good things happen. Well, you did the right thing, and the city of San Diego has had good things happen since.”
Shannon alleged that Filner repeatedly asked her out and one time grabbed her and kissed her on the lips. She also contended that he walked by her after the first sexual harassment allegations were lodged and put his finger to his lips.
City Attorney Jan Goldsmith called it an “absolute honor” to be allowed to read the apology.
“On behalf of the city of San Diego and our residents, we apologize to you,” Goldsmith told the woman.
“You were entitled to be treated with respect and dignity. Unfortunately, you were not,” the city attorney said. “Ms. Shannon, your decision to come forward was courageous, and you were right. We admire you. We thank you for coming forward, and that is from the bottom of our heart.”
The apology was signed by Interim Mayor Todd Gloria and Mayor-elect Kevin Faulconer. Goldsmith said he was going to add his signature, as well.
Shannon said she spoke to her supervisors with the city and now-Interim Mayor Todd Gloria about what happened, and received the courage she needed to step forward from people at the Gary and Mary West Senior Center. She volunteers at the facility, which serves low-income seniors just north of downtown San Diego.
She thanked them, her bosses with the city and the San Diegans who greet her everywhere she goes.
“All the citizens of San Diego that come up to me in the grocery store – – anywhere — and thank me, that is so empowering to me,” Shannon said.
Her lawyer, Los Angeles-based civil rights attorney Gloria Allred, thanked city officials for recognizing her client.
“This may be the first city in this nation — maybe even the world — who has publicly commended a citizen for standing up against sexual harassment,” Allred said. “So I commend the city of San Diego for that now- historic act.”
State law holds the city as an employer strictly liable for sexual harassment conduct of a supervisor, including the mayor, directed at a city employee, according to Goldsmith.
On Feb. 10, the City Council approved a $250,000 outlay to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by Filner’s former communications director, Irene McCormack Jackson. It was negotiations over her litigation that led him to step down on Aug. 30.
McCormack Jackson, also represented by 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 Filner demanded kisses and put his arm around her and dragged her along in a headlock while making sexual remarks.
Filner 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.
Two other lawsuits regarding Filner are 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.
– City News Service