New York Governor Hochul Hires Law Firm to Help Investigate Claims of Harassment in State Gov't
Kathy Hochul became the governor of New York, taking over from her embattled predecesoor Andrew Cuomo, who was accused of sexually harassing several of his employees and had to resign amid the subsequent scandal.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul released a YouTube statement on Monday, announcing that she will be hiring an outside law firm in order for it to be part of investigations related to claims of sexual harassment in the state government.
In a bid to "restore faith" in the government, Hochul pledged that the process to file a complaint will be eased so that Calcagni Kanefsky, LLP - a law firm that has been tapped by the governor's office - can then independently examine the claims.
"We're also taking new steps to make sure the executive chamber is a workplace that is also free of harassment and hostility, including by bringing out outside reviewers and a new HR team", she said in the video. "We'll do our best to protect the confidentiality and privacy of the investigation, and everyone will have the option to file an anonymous complaint".
Hochul also underlined that her office will have zero tolerance for those attempting to retaliate "against anyone who files a good faith complaint or cooperates in any investigation".
Her new recruits are set to probe the claims and then recommend strategies for a disciplinary action if it is needed.
"By working in a safe and supportive workplace, each of us can thrive", Hochul said, eager to start a "new era of trust in the state government".
Hochul focused her attention
on the problem of sexual harassment in the state government in the wake of her embattled predecessor Andrew Cuomo's resignation. The former governor was accused by several women of sexually harassing them or making inappropriate remarks or unwanted flirtation at the workplace.
Cuomo's accusers described the work environment under the ex-governor as "rife with fear and intimidation and accompanied by a consistent overlooking of inappropriate flirtations and other sexually suggestive and gender-based comments by the governor", according to an investigation conducted by State Attorney General Letitia James' office.
While Cuomo himself remained adamant in denying any wrongdoing
, James stated that she "believed these 11 women". According to the AG's extensive report
, Cuomo and his team made unlawful retaliatory attempts when responding to the allegations, particularly those voiced by Lindsey Boylan, by leaking her personal information to the media after she stepped forward to accuse the ex-governor of impropriety.