HARTFORD, Conn. — A company that helps businesses handle personnel issues denies it forced one if its employees out of his job after it was discovered he had posed nude in Playgirl magazine.
Daniel Sawka filed a federal civil rights lawsuit in May 2013 against Roseland, New Jersey-based ADP Inc. alleging sexual harassment. The company responded in a court filing Monday.
Sawka worked as a regional sales manager for ADP, which offers workforce management services, including payroll services and human resources management, for other companies and says it has more than 610,000 clients around the world.
Sawka, who worked for ADP in Windsor and later in Milford, alleges he was subjected to constant jokes and ridicule at work after a woman in his office discovered he had posed nude in the early 1990s in a lumberjack-themed spread for Playgirl and found the photos online.
Jokes included “a comment about homosexual men viewing the photos and what they would be doing while viewing the photos,” according to the lawsuit. “(ADP) employees would say ‘timber’ or ‘lumberjack’ in reference to the plaintiff and the plaintiff’s photos.”
Sawka, 49, said his co-workers continued to download the pictures at work even after he implored them not to and to “leave me alone.”
He said company employees brought the issue up during a dinner in New York honoring Sawka for his job performance and during a company outing to a New York Yankees baseball game.
He said he went to the company’s personnel department in February 2011 and was promised the company would take appropriate actions.
He alleges the company failed to end the ongoing sexual harassment and he was “constructively discharged,” a legal term meaning the conditions were so intolerable he was forced to leave the job in March 2011.
“The sexual harassment … that included managers participating in the sexual harassment, condoning it, and failing to stop it caused (Sawka) to be treated unequally when compared to similarly situated sales managers,” the lawsuit says.
The company, in its response, denies there was a “pattern and practice” of jokes, sexually charged comments and ridicule. It also says it “exercised reasonable care to prevent and correct promptly any alleged harassing behavior.”
Sawka, who lives in Durham, is seeking damages for lost pay and benefits and emotional distress.
A telephone call seeking comment from his attorney on Monday was not immediately returned.