The state legislature for New York is just another of many states whose lawmakers are facing allegations from victims of sexual harassment in the workplace. Eight former staffers (seven women and one man) testified as to their experiences recently, offering harrowing details of the abuse to lawmakers during a hearing at the state capitol.
They allege they were subjected to unwanted misbehavior and that leadership in the Assembly and its top staff worked to discredit and silence them. Many faced retaliation, including being fired or having their reputations smeared by tabloid media. Elias Farah, the lone male victim, testified that his former boss, then-Assemblywoman Angela Wozniak, retaliated against him by having her allies slander his reputation and painted him as a “creep preying on a young mother.” Assemblywoman Wozniak was eventually sanctioned for her behavior.
The victims also raised questions about the investigative process of the state Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCPE), one of the bodies tasked with investigating incidents of workplace harassment in the Legislature. Victims say they were rigorously interrogated by JCOPE staff but never received updates on whether their cases were resolved or the investigations discontinued.
Another staffer testified that her efforts to seek an investigation and to obtain protective measures for her staff were rebuffed. Instead, she was forced to sign a nondisclosure agreement.
One former staffer described incidents wherein a former lawmaker required her to wear revealing clothing to work and paraded her in front of his friends.
Elizabeth Crothers, who has for years alleged that former top Assembly staffer Michael Boxley raped her in 2001, described how the chamber’s leadership closed ranks behind him before his arrest at the Capitol in 2003 for assaulting another young woman. Boxley was ultimately convicted of sexual misconduct, a misdemeanor, and later took a job with a top lobbying firm.
This testimony was just a portion of the allegations against some New York lawmakers. Clear from the testimony was that for many years, victims were silenced, rather than heard. The era of #MeToo has brought about a change, allowing these victims the audience they deserved long ago.
If you believe you have been the victim of sexual harassment or retaliation, please consider contacting the lawyers at the Bullman Law Firm. We represent workers, not employers. Our number is (503) 987-0000. There is no charge for your call.