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Thursday, February 19, 1998

Magness to retire after being sanctioned for sexual harassment

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) -- The city's public events director, accused of having a "legs and lipstick" standard for female employees, is stepping down after sexual harassment allegations.

B. Don Magness, 65, agreed to retire by Oct. 1 after he received a written reprimand for allowing sexual harassment in the workplace, Fort Worth City Manager Bob Terrell said.

Magness, who declined comment, resigned as director of the Miss Texas pageant in 1990 amid similar allegations. Magness earns about $110,000 a year and is one of the city's highest paid officials.

Terrell also ordered all public events employees to undergo training on recognizing and preventing sexual harassment.

Jay Seymour, one of three women who filed harassment complaints against Magness, complained to city officials in October that she was marked down on her yearly evaluation because she did not wear enough makeup or lipstick to suit Magness.

Magness told female employees in the department that they should show "legs and lipstick," Ms. Seymour said. She was on maternity leave and could not be reached for comment.

Public events department assistant manager Pamela Wright, who joined in the suit, later received a 30-day suspension without pay.

The suspension was for unrelated actions that came to light during the Magness investigation, according to city records.

Attorney Art Brender of Fort Worth, who represents Ms. Wright, termed her suspension retaliatory and a violation of the state's whistle-blower law designed to protect those who report wrongdoing.

Ms. Wright was accused of sending out personal Christmas cards to some public events clients that city officials say were suggestive and inappropriate, and of being intoxicated while off-duty at some public events.

Ms. Wright denies the allegations, Brender said. She could not be reached for comment.

Pat Hale, a third female employee, reported seeing Magness looking up women's skirts when they climbed stairs, and said he handed out "crude" faxes, including one of a semi-nude woman.

All of the complaints have been filed with the city and the Texas Human Rights Commission in Austin. The state complaints are pending.

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