A sexual harassment complaint filed by Human Resources Director Angela Payne against Sheboygan Mayor Bob Ryan has been scheduled. The hearing will take place on April 26. Originally scheduled for Jan. 24 the matter was moved due to a scheduling conflict with one of the attorneys.
Ms. Payne has filed suit claiming that Mayor Ryan began treating her badly and eventually fired her after she rejected his advances in July of 2009. She alleges that Ryan attempted to kiss her at a bar and also made inappropriate sexual comments about her physical appearance and other women employed by or associated with the city on other occasions.
Mayor Ryan has issued statements denying all allegations.
Payne originally sent a letter listing her complaints to the city in September of 2009; she also filed a complaint with the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development. An officer from the DWD did conduct a preliminary investigation and determined that Payne’s allegation of sexual harassment is believable but failed to agree with her allegations of racism. Ms. Payne is a black woman.
The preliminary investigation and the belief that her sexual complaint was legitimate allowed the complaint be upgraded to a hearing. It seems that this is not the first time Ms. Payne has encountered this sort of situation. She filed an unsuccessful discrimination and retaliation claim in 2000 alleging that her boss at the time had performed these actions after she ended a sexual relationship with him.