New York Assemblyman Resigns Amid Allegations of Sexual Harassment

A 72-year-old Assemblyman from Brooklyn’s 53rd Assembly District has reportedly resigned amid a number of sexual harassment allegations. According to reports, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo asked Assemblyman Vito Lopez to resign from his position as a lawmaker after at least two reports of sexual harassment and retaliation came to light. After Lopez initially refused, Speaker Silverman apparently sought other avenues to expel the man from the lawmaking body. Lopez, who was first elected to the New York Assembly in 1984, previously stated he would not leave office until his current legislative term ended in June.

In August 2012, Lopez was purportedly accused of sexually harassing at least eight female legislative employees by asking them to join him in a hotel room, placing his hand on their thigh, or asking them to wear skimpy and “sexy” clothing to work. At least one of Lopez’s alleged victims supposedly stated she was afraid to report the sexual harassment out of fear the Assemblyman would damage her career. Last summer, Lopez was reportedly stripped of his seniority and censured by Speaker Silver. Still, a Joint Commission on Public Ethics report alleges that Lopez was shielded from further investigation by the Assembly Speaker and others. Despite the report, a special prosecutor stated Lopez would not face criminal charges in connection with the alleged harassment.

Workplace sexual harassment in New York and elsewhere may occur when an employer’s promotion and other decisions are based upon an employee’s response to unwelcome sexual advances. A worker may be threatened with demotion, termination, or other consequences for refusing a boss or co-worker’s sexual advances. In addition, sexual harassment may result in a hostile work environment. This generally occurs when verbal statements or unwanted physical contact unreasonably interfere with a worker’s ability to properly perform his or her job. A hostile work environment may also result when an employee is offended or intimidated by a boss or co-worker’s behavior.

In New York, sexual harassment is generally considered a form of gender discrimination despite that the applicable laws do not specifically state this. Individuals who were sexually harassed may be entitled to recover financial compensation from their employer as a result of the harm inflicted upon them. If you were sexually harassed by a superior or co-worker, you should discuss your rights with a quality employment law attorney.

The lawyers at Phillips & Associates represent the victims of workplace sexual harassment and discrimination in New York City and surrounding areas. At Phillips & Associates, our experienced attorneys will fight to protect your rights at the municipal, state, and federal levels. To schedule a free, confidential consultation with a caring advocate, please call our knowledgeable lawyers at (212) 248-7431 or contact us through our website.

More Blog Posts:

Federal Court Says New York City Gender and Harassment Case Must Go to Trial, New York Employment Attorney Blog, May 8, 2013
Lawsuit Accuses Famous Yogi of Sexual Harassment, New York Employment Attorney Blog, April 9, 2013
Additional Resources:

Report Finds Lawmaker Was Shielded by Leaders, by Danny Hakim, New York Times

Lopez Says He Will Quit Assembly on Monday, by Thomas Kaplan, New York Times


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