Parks Supervisor Angelo Figueroa was suspended without pay on Thursday following Daily News report about sexual harassment probe.
Following News report about city probe into allegations of inappropriate touching, sexual advances and pole dancing contests at employee gatherings, Parks Commissioner Veronica White said the two Randalls Island supervisors — James Cafaro and Angelo Figueroa — have been suspended.
They played — and now they pay.
Two Parks Department supervisors were suspended Thursday in the wake of allegations they sexually harassed female subordinates and set up a stripper pole on company property for boozy parties, according to the New York Daily News.
At left, a Parks Department worker dances at a Christmas party on a portable stripper pole at "Five Borough" a parks-owned facility on Randalls Island. At right, another photo from the party. Someone allegedly demanded that workers get on the strip pole if they wanted jobs.
Parks Commissioner Veronica White told a City Council hearing the two accused supervisors would be suspended without pay.
James Cafaro, deputy chief of operations of Parks Department, has been accused of helping organize sexually suggestive strip parties for employees. (Photo: JOE Marino/New York Daily News
The announcement came two days after the Daily News first reported that the Department of Investigation had opened a probe into allegations of x-rated recreation.
The News spoke with two Parks employees who said they were sexually harassed with inappropriate touching and suggestive texts.
Deputy Chief of Operations James Cafaro, 53, and Parks supervisor Angelo Figueroa, 49, were transferred last week out of the Randalls Island facility where the strip parties allegedly occurred.
Text dated March 18, 2013 from Parks Department official James Cafaro to a female employee who later made sexual harassment allegations against Cafaro.
The men were not initially suspended, but after two days of meetings with DOI, a recommendation was issued to Parks officials that the two men be relieved of duty pending the final outcome of the probe.
“We acted swiftly when told of the alleged improprieties,” White said.
“I am committed to maintaining an environment in which all of our employees are free from any form of discrimination or harassment,” she said.
Text dated Dec. 21, 2012 from a Parks Department employee to another employee who made sexual harassment allegations against James Cafaro.
The Council meeting was about budget issues but White said she wanted to address the allegations that the two men fostered a sexually suggestive environment and rewarded with jobs women who flirted and participated in the strip parties.
Parks officials recently took several steps to overhaul its Equal Employment Opportunity Office, she said, including giving additional training to 1,500 employees.
The agency has also hired two new EEO officers, she said.
The chair of the City Council Parks Committee, Melissa Mark-Viverito, said it was important that a strong message is sent to all the agency’s employees, particularly its female staffers.
Many of them are single parents who depend on the $14-an-hour seasonal jobs to survive.
“I’m ... hoping that with the other measures you’re implementing in the agency, with regards to training, and enhanced training — because the training that was in place maybe was not appropriate — that we can avoid these kinds of incidents in the future,” Mark-Viverito said.
The raunchy holiday parties go back as far as 2009, but were relatively tame. By late last year, sources say female workers were stripping down to their bras and panties and getting $20 tips for pole tricks.
New York Daily News - May 31, 2013 - By Erin Durkin and Ginger Adams Otis
A Walk In The Park - May 29, 2013