New York pays millions in sex harass cases - New York News

New York pays millions in sex harass cases

By MICHAEL GORMLEY | Associated Press

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -- New York taxpayers paid more than $5 million in the last two years to settle more than a dozen sexual harassment cases against state workers, according to records obtained Thursday.

The cases include $1.79 million paid to a woman who worked for the state prisons system in western New York. The incident reported in 2000 was settled in 2009, with $1.1 million of the payout going to attorney fees, according to the first batch of records provided to The Associated Press under the state Freedom of Information Law.

Payouts in cases identified in records so far against state employees begin at $125,000.

The records from the attorney general's office were requested following the disclosure of $103,000 in public money paid to settle a sex harassment claim against Assemblyman Vito Lopez, a Brooklyn Democrat. That case was settled by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver in June and included a confidentiality agreement sought by the two accusers. It surfaced Aug. 24, after the Assembly ethics committee censured Lopez for separate accusations by two women dating to July.

Silver has said he won't agree to any other private settlements because government must be transparent. The case against Lopez, who denies sexually harassing anyone, forced the issue of sexual harassment in Albany into public view. The Lopez cases are now being reviewed by the state ethics board.

The records obtained Thursday didn't involve any elected officials. They show that the state employees accused of sexual harassment paid a fraction of the cost, as little as $333 in a total settlement of $333,000.

The records so far show that the settlements were made in cases involving the Department of Corrections, the State University of New York, the City University of New York, the Office of Mental Health and a psychiatric hospital.

Few details of the harassment were reported in the legal papers signed by state officials and attorneys for the accusers, the vast majority of whom are women. Sexual harassment was reported in areas as diverse as prison kitchens and in college buildings. 

"We'll be providing additional cases as we collect them in response to your FOIL request," said James Freedland, spokesman for the state attorney general's office.

Although the incidents date back to 2000, the documents released Thursday reflect settlements signed between 2008 and 2010. The cases before 2011 were handled under former Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. Additional settlements were handled by current Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in what appears to be a routine function of state government.

On Thursday, Gov. Cuomo's office responded to its FOIL request from the AP by saying it has no record of sexual harassment settlements for employees in the executive chamber. The Senate's Republican majority and the Assembly's Democratic majority said they don't have records of any sexual harassment settlements based on claims against lawmakers.

Most of the cases were handled in U.S. District Court. But sexual harassment cases in state and local government are also handled by the state Division of Human Rights. Records there show settlements of as much as $700,000 in public money paid by the state in the last five years.

In the $1.79 million settlement, a cook at the Lakeview Shock Incarceration Correctional Facility accused her boss of sexual harassment stemming from an incident in 2000 and another in 2005. She also accused her boss of retaliation after she made the claims, the record stated.

Included in her payment was $140,000 in back pay and $1.1 million for her attorney fees and signed an "irrevocable letter of resignation," dated Jan. 14, 2009.

"The $5 million paid by the state is indicative of how pervasive sexual harassment is in the state's workplace and demonstrates the state's failure to strictly enforce the law, which exists for the protection of its employees," said attorney Gloria Allred, who represented two of Lopez's accusers. "The state should have a zero tolerance policy for any state employee who creates or permits the existence of a sexually hostile work environment."

  • New York State NewsNew York State NewsMore>>

  • NY grand jury to weigh charges for Tony Stewart

    NY grand jury to weigh charges for Tony Stewart

    Tuesday, September 16 2014 3:43 PM EDT2014-09-16 19:43:05 GMT
    A grand jury will decide whether NASCAR driver Tony Stewart will be charged in the August death of a fellow driver at a sprint car race in upstate New York, a prosecutor said Tuesday. Ontario County District Attorney Michael Tantillo said he made the decision to present the case to a grand jury after reviewing evidence collected by county sheriff's investigators.
    A grand jury will decide whether NASCAR driver Tony Stewart will be charged in the August death of a fellow driver at a sprint car race in upstate New York, a prosecutor said Tuesday. Ontario County District Attorney Michael Tantillo said he made the decision to present the case to a grand jury after reviewing evidence collected by county sheriff's investigators.
  • Boater gets prison for fatal Hudson River crash

    Boater gets prison for fatal Hudson River crash

    Tuesday, September 16 2014 3:18 PM EDT2014-09-16 19:18:53 GMT
    A man who was drunk when he crashed a powerboat into a construction barge, killing a bride-to-be and her fiance's best man, was sentenced Tuesday to two years in jail. The victims' families, who say poor lighting on the barge was the main cause of the collision on the Hudson River, called the sentence "incomplete justice."
    A man who was drunk when he crashed a powerboat into a construction barge, killing a bride-to-be and her fiance's best man, was sentenced Tuesday to two years in jail. The victims' families, who say poor lighting on the barge was the main cause of the collision on the Hudson River, called the sentence "incomplete justice."
  • NY: Wal-Mart levied fake 'sugar tax' on soda

    NY: Wal-Mart levied fake 'sugar tax' on soda

    Tuesday, September 16 2014 2:53 PM EDT2014-09-16 18:53:56 GMT
    New York's attorney general has settled a false advertising investigation at Wal-Mart, saying stores were charging a nonexistent "sugar tax" on soda.
    New York's attorney general has settled a false advertising investigation at Wal-Mart, saying some store personnel were citing a nonexistent "sugar tax" on soda. Investigators say some consumers who complained were falsely told the state has a "sugar tax." They say the markup of more than 16 percent violated state laws.
  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • Bratton: Islamic State group threat expanding

    Bratton: Islamic State group threat expanding

    Tuesday, September 16 2014 8:43 PM EDT2014-09-17 00:43:17 GMT
    New York City has entered a "new era" of potential terror threats as hostilities between the United States and extremists from the Islamic State group intensify, Police Commissioner William Bratton said Tuesday. Bratton told reporters that there is no current information pointing to a specific threat against the city.
    New York City has entered a "new era" of potential terror threats as hostilities between the United States and extremists from the Islamic State group intensify, Police Commissioner William Bratton said Tuesday. Bratton told reporters that there is no current information pointing to a specific threat against the city.
  • High-fiving strangers in NYC

    High-fiving strangers in NYC

    Tuesday, September 16 2014 6:01 PM EDT2014-09-16 22:01:29 GMT
    Looking for a taxi cab is a common sight in the city. For some people, an outstretched arm is usually the sign for hailing a cab. A few other folks see it as something else.Meet Meir Kalmanson. He sees a hand in the air as an opportunity to lighten up a person's serious or frantic state. Meir decided to high-five his way down Fifth Avenue. The video of his rebellion of social norms has gone viral.
    Looking for a taxi cab is a common sight in the city. For some people, an outstretched arm is usually the sign for hailing a cab. A few other folks see it as something else.Meet Meir Kalmanson. He sees a hand in the air as an opportunity to lighten up a person's serious or frantic state. Meir decided to high-five his way down Fifth Avenue. The video of his rebellion of social norms has gone viral.
  • Empire State Building Facebook review controversy

    Empire State Building Facebook review controversy

    Tuesday, September 16 2014 5:52 PM EDT2014-09-16 21:52:40 GMT
    When it comes to visiting New York City landmarks, half the fun is reviewing them afterward on social media sites like Facebook. But some folks say the Empire State Building is reporting their reviews as spam.
    When it comes to visiting New York City landmarks, half the fun is reviewing them afterward on social media sites like Facebook. But some folks say the Empire State Building is reporting their reviews as spam.
Powered by WorldNow
Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | New Terms of Service What's new | Ad Choices