Playgirl ‘Lumberjack’ Sues Former Employer for Harassment

By Abby Ellin

Jun 5, 2013 6:01am

You might want to think twice the next time you strip naked in a national publication.

Daniel Sawka learned that the hard way. Eighteen years ago, Sawka, a former district sales manager for ADP Inc., a provider of business outsourcing, posed as a nude lumberjack in Playgirl magazine. His colleagues discovered his brief modeling career online about a month after he started working at ADP in Windsor, Conn., as a district sales manager, in November 2009.  They allegedly began teasing him relentlessly, shouting “Timber!” whenever he was around.

On May 24, the tree finally fell: Sawka filed a lawsuit against ADP in U.S. District Court, in Connecticut. He alleges that ADP failed to take action to protect him from sexual harassment.

According to the suit, “Following the discovery of the nude pictures, employees in the office engaged in a pattern and practice of jokes, sexually charged comments and ridicule concerning the plaintiff and the pictures.”

Sawka repeatedly asked them to stop, the complaint alleges, but they continued.

“During weekly and monthly roll call meets, jokes and comments of a sexual nature were made and directed” at him, the complaint says. This included jokes about his body parts, “including his genitals,” and a comment about “what homosexual men viewing the photos would be doing while viewing the photos.”

What’s more, the suit alleges, employees Googled Sawka’s name and downloaded or viewed the photos during work hours and on work computers.

At an awards dinner in Manhattan where he received an award, one of his fellow employees asked him about the pictures, and a “manager admitted that everyone at the company knew about the pictures,” the complaint states. Not long after, he, his manager and other employees were transferred to ADP’s office in Milford, Conn.

At two different meetings at the company headquarters in Roseland, N.J., employees he did not know “openly brought up the pictures and made jokes,” the complaint says.

In August 2010, Sawka’s team won a trip to Yankee Stadium and sat in ADP’s luxury box.  While there, a sales associate from ADP’s Stamford office loudly asked him “in front of many other employees about being in Playgirl Magazine,” the complaint says.

Sawka claims he was “constructively discharged” in March 2011. He is seeking damages for back pay, front pay, bonuses, personal days, lost pension/retirement benefits, and emotional distress.

Neither Sawka, his lawyer, James Sabatini of Newington, Conn., nor representatives from ADP returned phone calls for comment.

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