Saturday, December 20, 2014

Parks Department Employee Fired After Accusing Bosses Of Sexual Harassment At Raunchy Holiday Parties - Suit

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Parks Department worker James Cafaro was suspended and then demoted after the DOI found he had falsely claimed to not know about the unofficial holiday parties on Randall's Island. The woman who accused her bosses including Angelo Figueroa (below) of sexual harassment was fired according to a lawsuit.


A courageous Parks Department employee who blew the whistle on her bosses’ sexual harassment was fired for bringing “disrepute to the city,” court papers charge, according to an article in the NY Daily News. 

And the bosses Valerie Marville says harassed her — and who the city Department of Investigation found had committed wrongdoing — both still have their jobs, she says in a retaliation and discrimination suit filed against the city Friday.

“It’s astonishing,” said Marville’s lawyer, Norman Siegel.  

In papers filed in Manhattan Federal Court, Marville says she was groped, fondled and pushed to participate in stripper-pole parties by her bosses.  Marville, a single mother of three, went to work for Parks in 2009 as part of a welfare-to-work program. She was assigned to work at the 5-Borough facility on Randall’s Island for supervisor Angelo Figueroa and his deputy, James Cafaro. 

Marville says in the suit the pair made inappropriate comments and “held raunchy ‘unofficial’ holiday parties, replete with alcohol and a makeshift stripper stage, in which seasonal female Parks Department employees were encouraged to strip in exchange for career opportunities.”

Angelo Figueroa is also accused of sexual harassment.
Parks Department employee Angelo Figueroa is also accused of sexual harassment. Both he and James Cafaro were suspended  but later returned to the agency.   

She said she was encouraged to dance at the parties — and that Cafaro stuffed a $20 bill into her pants at two of them. On other occasions, Cafaro stuck his face in her crotch and put his mouth on her breast, the suit says. He then warned her not to do anything she’d “regret,” the suit says.  

Marville finally complained to higher-ups in 2013, and they had her transferred. She and another colleague with similar claims then spoke out about the harassment to a Daily News reporter. The paper did a front-page story and follow-ups about the shenanigans.  

Cafaro was suspended, and the DOI found he had falsely claimed to not know about the parties.

 Photo taken of a Parks Department worker dancing on a stripper's pole inside the Randalls Island Park's garage./Photo taken of a Parks Department worker dancing on a stripper's pole inside the Randalls Island Park's garage. The photograph is being used against Parks Department official James Cafaro. Cafaro has been accused of sexual harrasment.
(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. (righ) Another photo from the party. A parks superviser allegedly demanded that workers get on the strip pole if they wanted jobs.

Cafaro was demoted after the DOI report, but Marville was canned. When she tried to file for unemployment, the agency fought her claim. The other Parks worker who complained was also fired, said her union rep, Dilcy Benn. Marville’s suit, which seeks unspecified money damages, names the city, Figueroa and Cafaro as defendants.

“I think it’s very sad that after these women were victimized, and were brave enough to speak out, the men are still here and they are both gone,” said Benn, president of the union that represents Parks workers.  

A rep for the Parks Department did not respond to a request for comment. A spokesman for the city Law Department said it “will review the lawsuit once we are served.” 

Read More:

Ex-Parks Department employee claims she was fired after accusing bosses of sexual harassment, raunchy holiday parties
New York Daily News - December 20, 2014 - By Ginger Adams Otis, Dareh Gregorian

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