ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo declined to say Wednesday what his office is doing to ensure a safe work environment for two female aides who have accused him of sexually harassing or groping them.
Speaking to reporters from his Manhattan office, Cuomo said “there are rules” about how employers are supposed to handle such complaints, then turned to his special counsel, Beth Garvey, to elaborate.
“Certainly every individual who comes forward and makes a complaint is protected from retaliation and we are making sure that occurs in this case as well,” Garvey said.
They didn’t answer a question about whether the women were working from home or offer specifics on how the situation was being handled.
State and federal law protects employees from retaliation, like being fired or demoted, for complaining about harassment.
Several women who worked for Cuomo have accused him of making inappropriate comments about their looks, giving them unwanted hugs or kisses, or making comments they interpreted as gauging their interest in an affair.
Among them are two aides who still work in the governor’s office. One, who has yet to speak publicly, reportedly said the governor groped her at the Executive Mansion last summer. Another, Alyssa McGrath, said Cuomo looked down her shirt and made suggestive remarks to her.
The governor has denied touching anyone inappropriately but said he’s sorry if he made anyone uncomfortable.
He insisted Wednesday, in response to a reporter’s question, that the scandal and ongoing investigations by the state attorney general and state Assembly were not interfering with his ability to govern.
“The reality is the exact opposite,” he said.
McGrath’s lawyer, Mariann Wang, said it was vital that “the governor and his office allow the attorney general’s lawyers to do their work without interference, and take no action against any victim or witness who has come forward.”
“Ms. McGrath has always feared retaliation given the history and public reports of how prior complaints have been handled. There’s every indication that the “rules” that the Governor now invokes were not applied to protect those women,” she said.