Female Employees of State Assemblyman Describe Harassment

The women's description of a hostile and sexualized workplace comes amid outrage over a secret $103,000 tax-payer funded settlement

Thursday, Aug 30, 2012  |  Updated 7:50 PM EDT
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But the 71-year-old says he'll continue to serve in the Assembly seat he's held for 28 years, a post that pays a salary as well as his pension. Meanwhile, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver reportedly signed off on a secret payment to settle a harassment charge. News 4's Chief Investigative Reporter Jonathan Dienst reports.

NBC 4 New York

But the 71-year-old says he'll continue to serve in the Assembly seat he's held for 28 years, a post that pays a salary as well as his pension. Meanwhile, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver reportedly signed off on a secret payment to settle a harassment charge. News 4's Chief Investigative Reporter Jonathan Dienst reports.

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Women who once worked for state Assemblyman Vito Lopez, who was censured last week for allegedly sexually harassing employees, said the power broker made unwanted advances, urged them not to wear bras and demanded they compliment him, according to a published report.

The New York Times interviewed five former employees of Lopez, who has said he will give up his post as chairman of Brooklyn's Democratic Party. All of the women said they resisted his advances, and that they feared his bad temper.

"Nobody knew how to react, and when he was gone, everyone would talk about it and say, ‘This is outrageous,’ ” one of the women told the Times. “People would try to ignore it and try to go along a little with it because he was so threatening.”

Other women interviewed by the Times said they had not witnessed any alleged harassment.

The women's description of a hostile and sexualized workplace comes amid outrage over a secret $103,000 tax-payer funded settlement, approved by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, to two women who claimed Lopez physically and verbally harassed them. 

One of those women was identified by the New York Post as Lopez's former chief of staff, who was hired to work for him in March 2011 as a legislative assistant with a salary of around $45,000, but promoted five months later to chief of staff with a salary of $75,000, according to the Post.

Five months after that, records showed her salary was slashed, to $49,842, and she was transferred out of Lopez's office two months later, the Post reported.

The woman declined comment to the Post.

Lopez denies any wrongdoing.  He has rejected calls to resign from office. 

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