got his,’ former Council employee declares
Sturm interviewed Heather Eman, now a self-employed insurance auditor,
do you feel about the outcome of the case?
Eman: I want people to know that it really did happen. This will
allow that Mr. Adado won’t be able to do this again. He isn’t
in office anymore. And this is the point we wanted to make.
paid attorney’s fees, but because the lawsuit was dismissed he
has incurred no actual legal punishment. Does this make you feel like
he’s getting away with it?
Eman: I’m OK with it, because he still paid a large sum
to his attorney out of his own pocket. And he lost his political position.
He would be mayor now if he hadn’t messed around. It’s like
karma. Everything comes around. He got his. I don’t believe that
he’s seen in the community the way he was before this happened.
You met Adado while working as a waitress, in 1998. At the time he recommended
you for the receptionist job, weren’t you already aware of his
Eman: I didn’t expect that he would behave that way in
an office setting. I was only aware of how he behaved in a bar setting,
which is very different.
So you wouldn’t have had problems with his behavior in a bar setting?
Eman: I have an easier time accepting this in a bar. When you’re
a waitress you tend to understand that those things may happen, whereas
it caught me offguard in the office.
City Council has reestablished the personnel committee, and they have
adopted a sexual harassment policy. Do you think that will fix the problem?
Eman: I think that Mr. Adado being out of office fixed the problem.
You don’t think that the sexual harassment policy is a
Eman: I think that it is a good tool for a department that has
somebody governing it. But there is nobody governing the Council. The
Council staff is still at-will, and the Council members will be able
to do whatever they want to do to them, as long as no one else is telling
them ‘you can’t.’ The public who governs them in a
way by electing them can’t be aware of how they use and misuse
their power. And that is still going on, even though Mr. Adado is gone.
What do you mean by misuse of power?
Eman: I think the Pulse has reported on the misuse of power by
Carol Wood. Even though she’s an at-large Council member, she
specifically worked in other Council members’ wards [taking other
Council members’ calls]. She went outside of her boundaries, and
that’s not right. She was also very supportive of Mr. Adado, and
she made it very difficult for me on purpose. [Eman’s lawsuit
states that Wood confiscated the secretary’s computer immediately
after she reported the harassment to City Attorney James Smiertka.]
How did people react after you filed the lawsuit?
Eman: It put pressure on my family, when the city brought in
every male person that was a friend of mine and questioned them —
more than 20 people. Those people have families and careers, and they
have reputations. By doing that the city was pressuring me to withdraw
the suit because it was hurting my friends. I would have settled in
the very beginning. But, yet, the city went ahead and still fought the
case, using more taxpayers’ money to fight it. It was a witch
How difficult was it for you to find a job afterward?
Eman: It was very difficult, because people knew that I was the
person that had filed a lawsuit against the city. I interviewed for
three positions, where I had the positions until they figured out who
I was. They didn’t want that hassle. The city could have easily
brought the new employers into the lawsuit as witnesses. Nobody wants
to be involved in a two-year lawsuit. I also didn’t have any references.
There was nobody at the city that would speak on my behalf. I lived
on credit cards for a year, and took out $30,000.
What advice would you give to female employees who are in similar
Eman: Even if at the time it feels like your job is all you have,
I found that this was completely untrue. In the beginning I was willing
to sacrifice my pride and my self-respect, and play Adado’s game,
because I thought I couldn’t find another job like that, and that
I couldn’t support my son. I had never been unemployed since I
was 15. But it’s not as horrible as it seems. It’s not worth
staying. There is more out there!
Have your experiences with Adado changed your attitude towards
Eman: I guess I didn’t know that some men could be as gross
as they really are. I didn’t know that men got off on underwear.
I thought that adults would know better.
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