Hochul hires law firm to investigate harassment in state government

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ALBANY – They should call it the Cuomo rule.

Governor Kathy Hochul announced Monday that her administration would hire an outside law firm to investigate any future complaints of unlawful discrimination, harassment and retaliation in her office.

The move comes in the wake of the resignation of his disgraced predecessor, Andrew Cuomo, following an explosive report concluding that he sexually harassed several women and fostered a toxic work environment as governor.

Hochul vowed she would “restore faith” in state government – a direct attempt to distance her administration from Cuomo and its scandals.

She said there was “no room for harassment or bullying, sexual harassment, denigration or mistreatment, period” in a nearly three-minute video sent to all employees at the state published Monday.

“We are also taking further steps to ensure that the executive chamber is a workplace that is also free from harassment and hostility, including bringing in external reviewers and a new HR team,” she said. in the post on YouTube.

“Let me be perfectly clear on our policies, we will take every complaint of harassment and discrimination seriously. We will do our best to protect the confidentiality and confidentiality of the investigation, and everyone will have the opportunity to make an anonymous complaint.

She orders her office to bring in Calcagni Kanefsky, LLP – a Newark, New Jersey-based company that has former federal and state prosecutors – to independently investigate all allegations made. The firm will report its findings to in-house counsel in its office and make recommendations for disciplinary action.

A spokeswoman for Hochul said the governor’s office plans to submit a contract with the company to the office of state comptroller Tom DiNapoli for review.

“We have zero tolerance for any retaliation against anyone who files a good faith complaint or cooperates with an investigation,” Hochul added in the video.

Hochul’s announcement comes after former Governor Andrew Cuomo resigned over multiple charges of sexual harassment.
Photo by JOHANNES EISELE / AFP via Getty Images

Hochul’s office also said chamber staff – made up of the governor’s key aides – will soon be required to complete mandatory in-person harassment courses.

Since August, nearly 200 staff members have taken ethics training covering topics such as the Empire State’s financial disclosure laws and the public officials law, his office said.

On August 3, the state attorney general’s office, Letitia James, released a 165-page report detailing the allegations of 11 women against Cuomo – including current and former staff members – finding that the ex-pol had violated “several” federal and state laws.

Complainants interviewed by AG investigators described the culture within the executive chamber as “filled with fear and intimidation and accompanied by constant neglect of inappropriate flirtations and other sexually suggestive and sexist comments from the part of the governor ”.

Cuomo “allowed… the harassment to occur and created an overall hostile work environment,” AG investigators wrote.

Investigators also found that Cuomo’s allies were engaged in retaliatory efforts against at least one accuser – Lindsey Boylan – by disclosing her personal files to members of the media after she spoke out publicly against Cuomo.

Lindsey Boylan accused Cuomo of sexual harassment.  The investigation also revealed that her office retaliated against her.
Lindsey Boylan accused Cuomo of sexual harassment. The investigation also revealed that her office retaliated against her.
AP Photo / Eduardo Munoz Alvarez, File

While the report does not recommend charges against Cuomo, the analysis has since sparked five separate criminal investigations by district attorneys across the state.

A criminal complaint was also filed by Brittany Commisso – a current public servant who accused Cuomo of groping her in the Albany-based executive mansion during the workday – with the Albany County Sheriff’s Department.

This investigation is underway in conjunction with the Albany County Attorney’s Office.

Cuomo and his personal lawyer Rita Glavin have repeatedly denied any wrongdoing on his part, arguing that Cuomo did not sexually harass any of the women who made allegations against him and saying that James’ investigation was tainted by his aspirations. policies to run for governor in 2022. 2022.

New York State Attorney General Letitia James' investigation found that Cuomo harassed several women.
New York State Attorney General Letitia James’ investigation found that Cuomo harassed several women.
AP Photo / Ted Shaffrey, file

James stood up for the work and the independence of his office.

Last week, Glavin asked James to “modify” his report and appoint an external reviewer to assess the claims.

Meanwhile, the State Assembly Judiciary Committee intends to release a report related to their now-defunct impeachment inquiry assessing allegations of sexual harassment against Cuomo as well as how his administration withheld the number. death in nursing homes during the COVID-19 crisis and allegations he abused state resources to write his $ 5.1 million memoir on the pandemic, “American Crisis.”


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