Announcer: The following segment is sponsored by Martin, Harding & Mazzotti.
Rita Pasarell: ‘It’s very bad for your boss to say, “Let’s play strip poker,” and to lean in, and kiss you unsolicited, and unwanted when you’re trapped in a room with him. It is completely intolerable when it’s one of the most powerful people in the state abusing their power that way.’
Interviewer: Governor Cuomo has come under fire recently facing accusations of sexual harassment. New York’s attorney general, Tish James, states that she will oversee the investigation into these allegations moving forward. Here to help discuss this legal issue and the rights of our viewers, you, is Managing Partner Paul Harding from the law firm of Martin, Harding & Mazzotti.
So, Paul, I’m gonna jump right into it. These allegations levied against the governor, range from asking a female staffer to play strip poker and kissing her on the lips, to asking another staffer questions about her personal life. At what point do these actions constitute sexual harassment?
Paul: Yeah, so sexual harassment is one of the things that, kind of, one size doesn’t fit all, right? You really look at the perspective of the victim, how they are preserving what they’re hearing. So here it could be in the terms, “Oh, I did it as a joke in bad taste.” It could be an innuendo all the way up to unwanted physical touch. And the only way they determine that is through an investigation in terms of how the victim has reacted to these things.
Interviewer: Well, in your expert opinion, how do you see this investigation into the governor playing out?
Paul: Well, just yesterday, the attorney general, was able to get uniquely a referral from the Governor’s Office which allowed her to hire a special counsel which she is in the process of doing. So what that does, it gives someone subpoena power. Once you have that subpoena power, you then can go in and depose witnesses and, you know, everybody’s kinda quiet in the governor’s area. When you get subpoenaed, you’re under penalty of perjury. That’s when you’re gonna get some statements that otherwise they may not release. So, too early to tell how it’s gonna play out. Could be anywhere from unfounded allegations to an impeachment of the governor, but there’ll be a lot of things happening in-between.
Interviewer: If our viewers at home think that they are a victim or have been a victim of sexual harassment, what should they do and what recourse do they have?
Paul: Well, New York State law, the employers are required to have a safe place where victims can go and report to a supervisor, whether it’s a private email or a phone extension. So, that is the process by which you report the sexual harassment, but you may not be comfortable doing that. You can contact, and kinda circumvent your employer, and go right to the Department of State, Department of Health. It does have a hotline. They do investigate that. It’s a state agency. The federal government also has EEOC, and they also have a hotline, the people that will call you back pretty quickly, or quite frankly, people sometimes go straight to a private attorney and share their story.
Interviewer: You can find all of these topics…