Debra Katz Statement on DOJ Settlement with New York State Executive Chamber

January 26, 2024

WASHINGTON DC (January 26, 2024) –Today, Debra S. Katz, counsel for Charlotte Bennett, released the following statement in response to the Justice Department Settlement with the State of New York Executive Chamber. The settlement was reached in the wake of findings by DOJ that former Governor Andrew M. Cuomo subjected female employees to a sexually hostile work environment, tolerated and failed to correct that environment, and retaliated against employees who came forward about the sexual harassment. The DOJ announced that former Governor Cuomo’s conduct was “especially egregious” because of the stark power differential involved and that “many” of former Governor Cuomo’s staff were “complicit” in creating a sexually hostile work environment.

According to Ms. Katz: “Former Governor Cuomo deprived many women, including our client Charlotte Bennett, of basic dignity in the workplace, in violation of state and federal law. The New York Attorney General’s 2021 report concluded that former Governor Cuomo sexually harassed Ms. Bennett and eleven other women and fostered a toxic work environment.  We are gratified that the DOJ recognized the seriousness of the allegations against Mr. Cuomo and opened an independent investigation. The DOJ’s independent investigation and subsequent settlement agreement with the Executive Chamber eviscerates Mr. Cuomo’s repeated refrain that the Attorney General’s findings were politically motivated. They obviously were not.

New Yorkers have paid millions of dollars thus far for Mr. Cuomo and others to deny precisely what the Attorney General’s report concluded and what the Department of Justice confirmed: that Mr. Cuomo violated the law by sexually harassing Ms. Bennett and others, and that the Executive Chamber’s response to these allegations of sexual harassment was woefully inadequate and retaliatory.

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. This settlement could not have happened without Ms. Bennett and the other brave women who came forward to tell their stories. We commend each of them for their tremendous courage.” Herbert Eisenberg, also counsel for Ms. Bennett added, “it is long time for victim blaming and former Governor Cuomo’s obfuscation to end.”

Ms. Bennett, who is represented by Debra Katz, Rachel Green, Kayla Morin, Sarah Nesbitt and Suzanna Bobadilla of Katz Banks Kumin LLP and Laura Schnell and Herbert Eisenberg of Eisenberg & Schnell LLP in New York, has sued the state of New York, former Governor Andrew Cuomo, Melissa DeRosa and two of Cuomo’s former senior aides for violations of federal and New York State law.

Read more on today’s settlement from the U.S. Department of Justice.

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