NJ nursing-home boss wanted granny chef to be S&M master: lawsuit



A nursing-home boss wanted his new granny chef to make him her whipping boy, new court papers allege.

AnnaMarie Ferrara, a 51-year-old grandmother, says New Jersey nursing-home supervisor Howard Lawton tried to rope her into a sadomasochist relationship on her very first day of work, according to a Mercer County Superior Court lawsuit.

“I would like to be your slave, and you can be my master,’’ Lawton allegedly told Ferrara on Aug. 22, the same day she began her job as a chef for Healthcare Services Group, Inc., at its Phillipsburg location.

“Lawton made clear that he hired [Ferrara] specifically because he desired to enter into some sort of sado-masochistic sexual relationship with her where [Ferrara] would sexually dominate him in some sort of imaginary dungeon,” Ferrara’s suit claims.

The boss showed Ferrera a collar and a bracelet with the letters “MASTER” on his computer, telling her, “I really want to order these,’’ the papers state.

“I will give you the key, and then you will really be my master,” Lawton added, according to the documents.

Ferrara “recoiled” and told Lawton he was “out of [his] mind,” the documents claim.

But Lawton continued to mercilessly sexually harass her for the rest of her shift, the suit says.

When Ferrara was leaving, he asked her what she was doing after work — saying, “We can go shopping for a collar,” the suit claims.

Ferrara either ignored or rebuffed all of Lawton’s advances, but that didn’t stop him from still sexting her that evening, according to the papers.

The next day, he told her at work, “I could hardly sleep last night waiting to see you again” — before informing her he bought the “MASTER” collar, the court documents claim.

On Aug. 26, Lawton then texted naked pictures of himself to Ferrara with the message, “Hope it pleases you master,” says the suit, which includes the alleged sexts — censored.

Photos included in a court filing show Howard Lawton in text messages he sent to his employee AnnaMarie Ferrara.
Photos included in a court filing show Howard Lawton in text messages he sent to his employee AnnaMarie Ferrara.
Court documents

Ferrera angrily texted Lawton back, saying she had asked him to stop and warning that her granddaughters could have seen the dirty pix, the court papers claim.

“My first thought was, thank God my granddaughters aren’t here, because they are always grabbing my phone to play games,” Ferrara told The Post. “My second thought was, ‘I had enough.’ ”

The next day, Ferrara told Lawton she didn’t feel safe and wouldn’t be coming into work, her suit says.

A day later, Aug. 28, Lawton told Ferrera he was firing her over the 2005 felony on her record, despite the fact that Ferrara had disclosed the offense in her application, the court documents claim.

The plaintiff said her old arrest was for an assault stemming from a fight she got into with another woman who Ferrara claimed was trying to steal something from her son. Ferrera’s lawyer said his client pleaded guilty in the case.

Ferrara told The Post that during her hiring interview, after she told Lawton about her offense, he told her that her more-than-15-year-old record wouldn’t be a problem.

Lawton’s hoopla over her old arrest was just a pretext, as he was actually firing her in retaliation for rejecting him, the court filing alleges.

Ferrara “continues to suffer severe emotional trauma and financial loss as she attempts to rebuild her life and her career,” the court papers claim.

The chef told The Post of the alleged harassment, “I needed this job, and I thought if I ignored it, then it would pass.

“I didn’t want to lose the job. I was stuck between a rock and hard place.”

Ferrara added that working as a chef at a nursing home was her “dream job” since her own father was also living in one.

“Because he was in a nursing home, it felt special to me to be taking care of elderly people,” she told The Post.

Ferrara — who has domestic violence in her past — claimed that “emotionally, [Lawton] set me back 20 years.

“Now I don’t want to work for a man,” she told The Post. “I just don’t want to be put in the position that he put me in by anyone.’’

Ferrera was never paid for her first week of work and is also seeking back pay, future wages and other unspecified damages, according to the suit.

“As alleged in the complaint, HCSG East operated a work place where a deeply disturbed supervisor was allowed to openly treat Ms. Ferrara as a sexual object for his own enjoyment and pursuit,” Ferrara’s lawyer, Peter Valenzano of law firm McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C., told The Post.

“When our client objected and refused to subject herself — or her young granddaughter — to this predatory conduct, she was immediately terminated in retaliation.”

Lawton declined to comment.

HCSB did not return a request for comment.


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