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Assemblyman to retire following claims of sexual harassment

After months of allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct, and following multiple complaints against him from the Legislature, Dennis Gabryszak finally caved to the pressure and announced he would retire.

After the story broke, the state assemblyman said he would step down due to the impact the scandal was having on his family and his position in the assembly. He refuted making requests for having sexual contact with members of his staff and denies creating a hostile work environment.

The 62 year-old Democrat maintains the outlandish allegations are blatantly false, but the complaints keep coming. He did admit that there may have been displays of inappropriate, but mutual, office banter on the job that did not represent sexual misconduct.

A current employee, as well as several other woman who had worked on the assemblyman's staff, had filed court papers in the last month accusing the lawmaker of making unwanted sexual advances and using sexually explicit language that made the workplace a hostile venue. The claimants state the assemblyman had invited them to strip bars and massage clubs and sent them videos with explicit sexual content. The latest claim was filed by a former staff member of the assemblyman who said he had requested that she and another female staff member dress in revealing Christmas costumes.

The speaker of the assembly, Sheldon Silver, sent the charges to the ethics committee and requested that the Gabryszak resign if they proved to be true. He called the actions disturbing. He added that the voters of his district deserve to be represented by strong leadership and said sexual misconduct would not be tolerated.

Sexual harassment is illegal and does not just targeting women; it can also affect men. Being subjected to unwanted sexual advances or lurid sexually explicit language and material on the job can wear a person down and affect self-esteem. As evidenced by Governor Cuomo's support of the lawmaker's decision to step down, the political arena in New York appears to be clearing house, with no signs of letting up anytime soon. There are many victims in this situation, not just the claimants, who deserve compensation under the law, but also other staff members who may have suffered in silence for fear of losing their jobs.

Source: buffalonews.com, "Gabryszak resigns amid sexual harassment claims" Robert J. McCarthy, Jan. 14, 2014

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