An openly gay Metro-North engineer has filed a discrimination suit against the MTA, claiming that she suffered a months-long harassment campaign at the railroad that culminated in her being attacked by a co-worker after she asked him to turn off a pornographic video he was watching in a work area in Grand Central Terminal.
Ann Marie Mahoney, 52, of Kingston, was eventually fired months after the July 12, 2011, fight in which she said she was punched in the face and placed in a chokehold by the video-watching co-worker who outweighed her.
"I was brutally assaulted by a 250-pound man because I complained about him playing a pornographic video game of two women engaging in sexual acts," Mahoney said Thursday in a statement issued through her lawyer.
The fight sent Mahoney to a Manhattan emergency room where she received stitches to close an open wound to her scalp, said her attorney, Philip Seelig. She was suspended for 61 days as a result of the fight, according to her lawsuit.
Mahoney is seeking more than $5 million in damages in the sexual-orientation discrimination and retaliation case which was filed in March 2012 and is scheduled to go to trial this fall in Manhattan Supreme Court.
Mahoney, a 25-year veteran before she was fired from her $79,000-a-year job in late 2011, alleges that she was regularly taunted about her sexual orientation by co-workers who hurled gay slurs at her and called her derogatory names. In addition, she said, the co-worker with whom she tussled told her "your mother is a whore who should have given birth to a man and not you."
Metro-North officials said Mahoney, like the co-worker, was disciplined for the fight, which happened near Track 19, and was allowed to return to work after serving a period of suspension as long as she agreed it would not happen again. Some six weeks later, they said, Mahoney got into another fight with a co-worker.
"You're not supposed to have fights with your fellow employees," said Metro-North spokeswoman Marjorie Anders.
Mahoney's lawsuit claims that when she returned to work after the July 2011 fight, the harassment continued.
"You're a sick woman," one co-worker told her, according to the lawsuit.
During a court hearing Thursday in Manhattan, Seelig asked a judge to let him depose Sherry Herrington, the Metro-North supervisor who he claims fired Mahoney.
Herrington, one of the nation's first female engineers, is also openly gay and is suing Metro-North in the same courthouse for sexual-orientation discrimination and retaliation.
Herrington claims Metro-North began investigating allegations that she got her domestic partner hired by the commuter rail after she lodged complaints in 2008 that two co-workers made inappropriate and offensive comments about her sexual orientation.
Seelig wants to know whether Metro-North put Herrington up to fire Mahoney to avoid the appearance that it was dismissing her because of her sexual orientation.
"It certainly seems curious that she's the one who signed it," Seelig told Newsday.
Anders denied the assertion and said that the railroad will do its best to make Herrington available. She is on medical leave.
"We will reach out to her," Anders said.