Aug. 9, 2021 By Allie Griffin
A Queens assembly member has introduced a bill prompted by the Gov. Andrew Cuomo scandal that would make it illegal for an employer to release the personnel files of an employee in retaliation for a workplace accusation.
Assembly Member Jessica González-Rojas introduced a bill that prohibits employers from disclosing personnel files as an attempt to discredit a victim of workplace discrimination.
The legislation — which applies to employers in both the public and private sector — was drafted by State Senator Andrew Gounardes of Brooklyn in response to accusations that Cuomo’s staffers leaked the personnel files of one of his accusers to members of the press.
Gounardes introduced the bill in the Senate in March, while González-Rojas introduced it in the Assembly in April.
The accusations of retaliation, which were made against Cuomo earlier this year, were substantiated in a bombshell report released by the NYS attorney general last week.
Attorney General Letitia James released the report that concluded that Cuomo sexually harassed nearly a dozen women and retaliated against one, Lindsey Boylan, for coming forward.
Boylan, a former economic development official, accused Cuomo of sexually harassing her for years in a statement she posted to Twitter on Dec. 13.
Just hours later, Cuomo’s staffers — under the guidance of top aide Melissa DeRosa — leaked Boylan’s personnel files to several members of the press, according to the report based on the findings of independent investigators.
The investigators concluded that DeRosa released the files in response to Boylan’s accusations against Cuomo. DeRosa resigned as secretary to the governor Sunday.
“The attacks on Lindsey Boylan’s character exposed one example of gaps that currently exist in human rights law and we must do everything that we can to reduce potential harm to victims,” González-Rojas said in a statement to the Queens Post.
Boylan later detailed specific instances when the governor sexually harassed her in a Medium post, despite the retaliation.
The bill aims to make it easier for victims of discrimination to make a report without fear of being discredited.
“It is incredibly difficult for survivors of sexual violence to come forward for multiple reasons,” González-Rojas said.
“That is why legislation like A7101/S5870, which I carry with Senator Gounardes, is important because we must protect survivors of sexual violence from any potential retaliation or consequences they may encounter as they decide to bravely come forward.”
The legislation would provide victims with the ability to take legal action and be awarded damages.
Gournades drafted the bill in March in response to the Cuomo administration’s actions against Boylan.
The bill unanimously passed the Senate in June. It has yet to go to a vote in the Assembly.
“My legislation has garnered bipartisan support in the Assembly and over 30 co-sponsors because my colleagues recognize the need to pass this bill,” González-Rojas said. “I will continue to push that this legislation passes the Assembly as soon as possible.”