Assemblyman John Ceretto, R-C-I-Lewiston, said Wednesday the State Assembly's hiring of an outside law firm with $200,000 of taxpayer money to handle sexual harassment issues falls far short of the reforms needed to correct the problems in New York's lower house. He said a fundamental culture change is needed, one which starts with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver stepping down from his position.
"As a father, I would not want my two daughters to work in the Assembly. A completely new workplace environment is needed to ensure that women can work without fear of harassment or abuse," Ceretto said. "Lawyering up shows how far off we are from creating the environment that the Assembly's female staffers need and deserve. We must do more to protect women from harassment and abuse in the Assembly."
Last year, after a report exposed former Assemblyman Vito Lopez' harassment of staffers, Ceretto called for Lopez's resignation and for Silver to step down as speaker. Since then, Ceretto has signed on as a sponsor of nine pieces of legislation that would expand protections for women against sexual harassment in the workforce, guarantee equal pay, toughen laws against domestic abuse and sex trafficking, and expand protections for women against discrimination based on sex.