Following charges of sexual harassment, New York Assemblyman Micah Kellner has lost his unpaid chairmanship and has been banned from leadership posts after an ethics committee found him guilty of sexual harassment and for creating a hostile work environment. The politician, open about his bisexuality, is under fire pending allegations that he had inappropriate chats with a male and a female on his staff over the last few years. He has been stripped of his post as chairman of the Libraries Committees. He will not be allowed to contract interns and will be obligated to attend sexual harassment workshops.
The speaker of the assembly has been quoted as saying that these actions should send a clear statement that sexual harassment is not to be tolerated in the political arena. He stated that a public hearing will be held in keeping with the Assembly's sexual harassment policy. The speaker is noticeably cracking down hard. He had recently been criticized for his questionable handling of previous sexual harassment complaints, in which he settled two initial claims with another assemblyman without sending matters to the ethics committee for resolution.
Although further details are pending, allegations against Kellner include sexually explicit conversations with a female staff member in 2009, as well as a male staff in 2011. While these allegations had been brought to the attention of the assemblyman's counsel, the matter was dropped. Kellner's attorney retired after the details went public.
Reports out of Albany indicate that the accused assemblyman will appeal the findings of the ethics committee that he had sexually harassed his staff.
While our lawmakers are held to higher standards than the average citizen, it is never appropriate for our lawmakers to create a hostile environment at the workplace in which unwanted sexual comments or actions are present.
There is legal recourse for such actions by an employer or other employee. An employment law attorney can provide more information about such legal remedies, including filing a civil suit for a variety of claims and damages.
Source: nydailynews.com, "Assemblyman Micah Kellner gets paddled for sexually harassing staff members" Glenn Blain, Dec. 30, 2013