Every New York employee deserves to feel safe in their workplaces. Not only that, but employees also deserve to be respected by their peers and their supervisors. Unfortunately, not all employees experience a professional work setting.
Last month, a state assemblyman from Brooklyn resigned from his positions when allegations emerged that he had sexually harassed multiple women who worked for him. According to an ethics report, he had a history of inappropriate interactions with women, including groping some of them. Because he was in violation of the state's Public Officers Law, the Legislative Ethics Commission fined him for $330,000, which can come from his campaign funds. It is the largest fine the commission has ever imposed on someone.
On top of the fine, the assemblyman is also being sued by two of the women he harassed. They argue that he and the speaker of the Assembly tried to keep the victims from speaking out by refusing to notify the Legislative Ethics Committee of their complaints and attempting to pay them off. It is not clear what sort of compensation the women are seeking.
Unfortunately, situations like this are far too common, and when a person is subjected to sexual harassment by a superior, it is not always easy to speak up. It is important to know, however, that sexual harassment in the workplace is illegal in New York, so if you do speak up, the person harassing you can be held accountable. Even if your employer won't address the issue, you can work with an attorney to file a lawsuit against him or her.
Source: The New York Times, "Ethics Panel Fines Lopez $330,000 in Harassment Case," JEsse McKinly, June 11, 2013