The state has agreed to pay $90,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by an administrative assistant working for the State Senate Majority Office who accused a superior of subjecting her “to a daily campaign of sexual harassment.”
A 48-year-old Lancaster woman accused Glenn Aronow, a former Niagara County legislator, of making unwelcome and crude comments about her personal appearance beginning in October 2007 when she worked at the Senate office in downtown Buffalo.
She also accused him of “sexually oriented physical contact, gestures, threats and unwanted exposure to pornographic materials,” according to her 2009 lawsuit in State Supreme Court.
Under the settlement, the woman will receive $75,000, and her lawyer, Steven M. Cohen, will receive $15,000, according to court records.
Under the settlement, Aronow and the state admitted no wrongdoing but approved the settlement for the convenience of all parties.
In addition to suing Aronow, the woman sued the state, alleging that his superiors should have taken more timely and appropriate action against him but failed to do so.
The woman said in court papers that after “a particularly terrifying sexually harassing incident,” she was told that Aronow had been removed from the office and that she could safely return to work.
She returned to the office “only to be confronted by Aronow,” she said in her lawsuit.
Rather than discipline Aronow, the state allowed him to resign as assistant supervisor to perform campaign work, she said in court papers. The majority office replaced Aronow with one of his friends, she said. The new assistant supervisor made numerous social calls to Aronow in her presence during office hours, she said.
In retaliation for her complaints about Aronow, she was stripped of many of her job responsibilities and was ostracized, she said in her suit.
She took a medical leave as a result, she said.
She said she was “discharged from her position” and suffered mental anguish, outrage and anxiety about her future.
The stipulation of settlement was signed by the State Attorney General’s Office and Aronow’s lawyer in June.
Aronow could not be reached to comment.
As recently as last year, Aronow worked as an aide to State Sen. George D. Maziarz, R-Newfane.
Maziarz’s office Thursday said Aronow no longer works for the office.
In her lawsuit, the woman said the supervisor in charge of the office in October 2007 failed to reprimand Aronow. She said she complained to the supervisor and to the Personnel Department in Albany.
When the office supervisor left the majority office to go to work for a Republican state senator, Aronow was put in charge of the office with power over personnel decisions, she said in the lawsuit.
She said that when Aronow was left in charge, she was subjected “to a daily campaign of sexual harassment.”
A lawyer for the state, in its 2009 court papers, denied the woman’s allegations and said the state exercised reasonable care to prevent and correct any sexually harassing behavior.
“The conditions alleged were not so pervasive as to constitute a hostile work environment,” the state’s court filing said.
The state conducted a thorough and impartial investigation into her complaints and took appropriate action, according to the state’s filing.