Laws protecting the rights of employees in the workplace apply to everyone—even the legislators who create those laws. In January, Buffalo Assemblyman Dennis Gabryszak resigned his office as he prepares to face allegations of sexual harassment.
By mid-January, seven women who worked with 62-year old Mr. Gabryszak had filed suit in response to behavior by the assemblyman that stretched over years. Some of the allegations include:
- Women staffers allege Mr. Gabryszak asked them to wear sexy elf costumes in the office during the holiday season. A former communications officer for Mr. Gabryszak stated the assemblyman wanted to dress as Santa with her seated in his lap for an office photograph.
- Mr. Gabryszak allegedly asked staffers to accompany him for a massage and showed employees pictures of women who had accompanied him on business trips.
- A staffer alleged Mr. Gabryszak invited her to his apartment to show her photographs of women in varying states of undress, while inviting her to sunbathe topless on the premises.
- When a staff member complained about this behavior to the chief-of-staff, and to the assemblyman himself, her salary was significantly reduced.
When the allegations were revealed, Governor Andrew Cuomo stated, “Following the latest reports of horrific behavior in the Assembly against Assemblymember Gabryszak, I asked him to either deny the allegations or resign immediately.”
After claiming, “In fact, there are allegations that have been made that are demonstrably false,” Mr. Gabryszak then resigned. Pending lawsuits against him allege the legislator made unwanted advances and created a hostile and sexually charged work environment.
No one is above the laws that protect workers from harassment and discrimination on the job. If you feel you are being harassed at work in New York, there are laws to protect you. Talk to a skilled sexual harassment attorney in the city when you need help.