NEW YORK – The Justice Department has reached a settlement with the state of New York for a series of reforms to protect women from sexually hostile work environments.
The settlement stems from the sexual misconduct allegations that ultimately led to the downfall of former Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
When Cuomo was forced out of office in a sexual harassment scandal, there were, some of whom were not even state employees. Now, the Department of Justice says that was the tip of the iceberg.
The DOJ settlement with New York state found that while governor, Cuomo subjected at least 13 women to a sexually hostile work environment, saying they faced “unwelcome, non-consensual sexual contact,” “unwelcome sexual comments and gender-based nicknames,” and “comments on their physical appearances or preferential treatment based on physical appearances.”
The report also Cuomo’s said senior staff were “aware of his conduct and retaliated against four of the women” he harassed.
The review largely reitierates the findings of the civil investigation by New York Attorney General Letitia James. Her office found that Cuomo had sexually harassed 11 women and created a “hostile” work environment for them.
Cuomo resigned a week after the state’s report was released.
“I think that given the circumstances, the best way I can help now is if I step aside and let government get back to governing,” he said at the time.
Watch Marcia Kramer’s report
Gov. Kathy Hochul said when she took office she took immediate steps to ensure a safe work environment.
“The moment I took office, I knew I needed to root out the culture of harassment that had previously plagued the Executive Chamber and implement strong policies to promote a safe workplace for all employees, and took immediate action to do so. I am pleased that the U.S. Department of Justice has acknowledged the significance of those efforts, and look forward to partnering with them as we continue to build upon that success,” Hochul said.
“These things happened. These things happened to me and other women. And then a huge bureaucracy tried to bury us for telling the truth. Never again will I ever let anyone or any system harm me and other women that way,” Cuomo accuser Lindsey Boylan wrote on X.
But Cuomo’s attorney insisted her client did not sexually harass anyone.
“The DOJ ‘investigation’ was based entirely on the NYS Attorney General’s deeply flawed, inaccurate, biased, and misleading report,” Cuomo attorney Rita Glavin said.
“We are hopeful that this settlement with the DOJ will lead to lasting change that prevents any other woman from having to endure what our client has endured,” the attorney for Cuomo accuser Charlotte Bennett said.
Several people close to Cuomo insisted that it was a “settlement without an investigation.”
Cuomo’s spokesman Rich Azzopardi said the settlement “isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on.”