October 25, 2021 – Johnson City, NY – Governor Kathy Hochul speaks at the Binghamton University Health Sciences Building in Johnson City. (Mike Groll / Office of Governor Kathy Hochul)
October 25, 2021 –
New York Governor Kathy Hochul said Monday she was enacting several measures against harassment and discrimination in state government, with a particular focus on the governor’s office.
Hochul took office just over two months ago, after former Governor Andrew Cuomo resigned in a sexual harassment scandal. A report from the state attorney general revealed that Cuomo sexually harassed 11 women, many of whom were junior employees in his office. He was accused of overseeing an executive chamber riddled with bullying and intimidation.
The report also revealed that Cuomo and some of his former key associates attempted to retaliate against one of his accusers when she came forward to complain.
Hochul, who has vowed that she will end what has been described as a toxic workplace, sent a video message to all state employees outlining the changes she is making.
“First, and it should go without saying, we will treat each other with respect,” Hochul said in the video. “The workplace is not a place for bullying or intimidation, sexual harassment, denigration or abuse. Period.”
Hochul also outlined the steps for employees who wish to file a complaint of harassment or discrimination they may have suffered. She said there would be “zero tolerance” for any attempted retaliation.
She said she was instituting live anti-harassment training to replace an online education program that was delivered one-on-one. Cuomo has been accused of ignoring this requirement and asking his secretary to complete the program online instead, which the former governor denies.
Hochul said she had retained the services of an outside law firm, Calcagni & Kanefsky, to investigate all allegations of unlawful discrimination, harassment and retaliation within the executive chamber.
The governor’s office will also have a revamped human resources department.
“We will take every complaint of harassment and discrimination seriously,” Hochul said. “We will do our best to protect the confidentiality and confidentiality of the investigation. And everyone will have the opportunity to file an anonymous complaint.
Hochul said that since she became governor on Aug. 24, nearly 200 staff in the executive chamber have received ethics training that included the requirements of the State Public Officials Act, the rules on disclosure. financial and how to comply with the standards set by the state ethics commission.
Cuomo has denied doing anything wrong and apologized if he inadvertently treated someone unfairly. The former governor, through his attorney, continues to challenge the findings of the attorney general’s report.