In mid-March 2014, the Manhattan Supreme Court dismissed a sexual harassment case against the state Assembly. The suit alleged the Assembly turned a blind eye to former Assemblyman Vito Lopez’s harassment of two young women employees. However, both women have re-opened their case, but this time around they are suing the state of New York, rather than the Assembly. The complaint otherwise remains the same.

Victoria Burhans, 28, and Chloe Rivera, 25, allege Lopez used his office “to commit egregious acts of sexual harassment” against them when they were working for him in 2012.

The alleged incidents happened after Lopez and the state Assembly had confidentially settled two other complaints against him for $135,000.

Lopez resigned in 2013, after the Joint Commission on Public Ethics issued a report finding he had groped and tormented at least eight female staffers, including Burhans and Rivera, since 2010. He was hit with a $330,000 fine, the largest fine ever from the Legislative Ethics Commission in June 2013. Lopez continues to deny any wrongdoing.

In the initial filing of the Rivera and Burhans case, the Court found that the Assembly could not be held responsible as Burhans and Rivera’s “employers,” and there was no evidence that the Assembly played a role in “aiding and abetting” Lopez’s behavior.

Your options for a sexual harassment claim

If you have been sexually harassed at work, you can first file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and then file a lawsuit in federal court. Or you may also bring a claim to municipal or New York State Court. An attorney can help you decide your options for maximizing compensation and lessening the emotional strain of an already stressful situation.

The Derek Smith Law Group, PLLC handles a multitude of cases that involve sexual harassment in New York City. For further information, please feel free to call us at 800-807-2209 for a free consultation or email at