Government Must be Held to Higher Standard
NEW YORK, NY – October 26, 2017 – The National Organization for Women – New York (NOW-NY) is calling on women and men who currently and previously worked in government in Albany and throughout the state to speak out about their personal experiences with sexual harassment or assault while on the job. Today, NOW-NY announced a new, dedicated hotline for individuals to report their experiences by calling NOW-NY at 518-362-7857 or submitting their story online at nownys.org.
Last week, an explosive letter signed by more than 140 women exposed the pervasive culture of sexual harassment in the California State Capitol. The signers, which included legislators, staff, political consultants and lobbyists, told their own stories from being groped by a male lobbyist to facing inappropriate advances. Just yesterday, lawmakers in Illinois released an open letter describing sexual harassment and intimidation with more than 130 signatures.
“Government sets the standard and the policies and the laws that all other industries are asked to uphold,”said Sonia Ossorio, president of the National Organization for Women – New York. “Given that Albany is a place where lawmakers have abused their power and sexual harassment has gone unchecked in the past, we felt it was important to give women in politics a platform to speak up.”
Albany has had a long and storied history of sexual assault and harassment cases. Former Assemblyman Vito Lopez’s abusive tactics went unchecked for years. He was accused of groping and making unwanted sexual advances towards multiple staffers, and taxpayer dollars were spent to settle sex harassment lawsuits. Ultimately, he was forced out of office in 2013. Former Assemblyman, Dennis Gabryszak, was accused by seven staffers from 2013-2014 of sexual harassment and stepped down amid mounting accusations. Also in 2014, former Assemblyman Micah Kellner, declined to seek re-election after two complaints of sexual harassment against him. In 2016 Gabryszak’s successor, Angela Wozniak, was disciplined and banned from hiring interns after she retaliated against a staffer who had reported sexual harassment.
“Women are putting aside self-blame and doubt and calling out their sexual harassers,” Ossorio said. “This is a tipping point, and we need to push for an end to the pervasiveness of sexual harassment that has infected the lives of working women everywhere.”
The National Organization for Women – New York (NOW-NY) advocates for the women and girls of New York, by defending reproductive rights, fighting economic inequality and aiming to end discrimination and violence against women and girls.