State Settles With WNY Woman In Sexual Harassment Suit

11:52 AM, Oct 6, 2012   |    comments
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Photo Courtesy AP

BUFFALO, NY - An attorney for a woman who filed a lawsuit against New York State and a former co-worker, alleging that she was sexually harassed in her workplace, has been awarded a $90,000 settlement according to her attorney Steven Cohen of the law firm Hogan Willig.

The 48-year-old plaintiff, who lives in Lancaster, worked in the New York State Senate Majority Office inside Mahoney State Office Building in downtown Buffalo.

There, she claimed she was subjected to numerous incidents of sexual harassment, primarily by fellow staffer Glenn Aronow, who was also a former Niagara County Legislator.

Her 2009 lawsuit further claimed that supervisors, who knew of the objectionable activity, did nothing to stop it.

Cohen confirms the state finally settled with his client three months ago for the sum of $90,000, which will include $15,000 for her attorney's fees.

However, Cohen insists that for his client, the case was not about money.

"It never became about the money for the client but we, as advocates for her, insisted that that be part of the package for her. Once Aronow and the supervisor were gone, she was more or less satisfied that justice was served. And, once policies were put into place to make sure this sort of thing wouldn't happen in the future, our client was satisfied as well," Cohen told WGRZ-TV.

Aranow moved on to another job with the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, before eventually landing with the staff of NYS Senator George Maziarz (R-Newfane).

Though Aronow was hired during the time the lawsuit was still pending, Maziarz told Two On Your Side he was not aware of the civil suit when Aronow came on board.

"We didn't know about the sexual harassment suit at that time," insisted Maziarz, who hastened to add that during his 17 years as a state lawmaker, there had never been any such allegations against himself or a member of his staff. "We wouldn't tolerate such things," Maziarz said.

Maziarz confirmed that he eventually became aware of the lawsuit while Aronow was in his employ, but that rather than dismiss him, he put him on a strict notice instead.

"Everyone has a presumption of innocence...but we told him that if he were to be found to be one tenth of one percent liable, or if he entered into settlement negotiations, then he could no longer work here," Maziarz said.

Maziarz also confirmed that when Aronow advised him last November that settlement talks had begun, "we then accepted his resignation".

Maziarz's opponent in the November election claims that was not the end of the close relationship between Maziarz and Aronow.

"Mr. Aronow was walking petions on behalf of Senator Maziarz, as well as candidates put up by Mr. Maziarz on the Green party and Working Families party lines in this year's state senate race," said Democrat candidate Amy Hope Witryol.

"He (Aronow) is a volunteer with the Republican committee," said Maziarz. "I have hundreds of people who volunteer through the party on my behalf."

Aronow did not return phone calls or answer the door of his home in our effort to seek his comments.

As for his client, Cohen said, "she's back on the work force, but she's still dealing with this."

Meanwhile, taxpayers are out $90,000 in money for the settlement, plus the time put in by lawyers from the office of the New York State Attorney General, who by law had to defend not only the state but also Aronow, because the acts he was accused of allegedly occurred in his capacity as a state employee.

Under the terms of the settlement, neither Aronow nor the state admitted any wrongdoing.

Click on the video player to watch our story from 2 On Your Side Reporter Dave McKinley and Photojournalist Dooley O'Rourke.

Click here to read Dave McKinley's blogs.

Follow Dave on Twitter: @DaveMcKinley2

WGRZ-TV, wgrz.com

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