A Former Museum of Sex Employee Is Suing the Institution for Allegedly Failing to Protect Her From Rowdy, Drunken Visitors

She also says the museum failed to accommodate her medical condition.

The opening of the Leonor Fini exhibition at the Museum of Sex. Image courtesy of the Museum of Sex.
The opening of the Leonor Fini exhibition at the Museum of Sex. Image courtesy of the Museum of Sex.

A former tour guide at the Museum of Sex is suing the midtown Manhattan institution for allegedly failing to protect her and other employees from “harassment and assault.”

Katherine McMahon, the 21-year-old plaintiff, claims that she and her colleagues were regularly subject to drunken visitors who would “grope… employees, use utterly inappropriate sexual language, and inquire into employees’ private sex lives,” according to the Daily News. McMahon was reportedly paid $13.25 an hour.

The museum, which opened in 2002, prides itself on being more than just a tawdry tourist attraction, curating exhibitions that advocate “open discourse surrounding sex and sexuality,” according to its mission statement. In her suit, however, McMahon suggests the institution could benefit from more oversight, describing several instances where management chalked up the issues to “the nature of the establishment.”

Installation view of “FUNLAND: Pleasures & Perils of the Erotic Fairground” by Bompas & Parr. Image courtesy of the Museum of Sex.

One example cited in the documents describes a couple who asked McMahon if they could have sex in an installation of bouncy-castle breasts created by the design duo Bompas & Parr. The bounce house, according to the museum’s website, is “designed to increase awareness of the body and to create the thrilling possibility of physical contact between strangers.” When McMahon told the visitors that public sex was illegal, they asked if they could “spank her instead.”

A sign inside of MuSex. Image courtesy of the Museum of Sex.

A sign inside of MuSex. Image courtesy of the Museum of Sex.

An email reportedly signed by a group of museum employees called on management to implement stricter protocol, especially since extended hours (the museum is open until 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and until midnight on weekends) reportedly led to an increase in drunk, rowdy visitors. McMahon emailed the human resources department to follow up on her claims of sexual harassment, and asked for better recourse for employees to file complaints, but none of her pleas were answered, she says.

A spokesperson from the museum told artnet News that McMahon’s case was “meritless” and “unfounded.” In response to McMahon’s additional allegations that she was not given adequate medical consideration while suffering from endometriosis, the person said that “the museum repeatedly and consistently accommodated Ms. McMahon’s medical needs, and would have continued to do so had she not elected to voluntarily resign her employment.”


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