Brooklyn Democrat Assemblyman Vito J Lopez is accused of creating what female employees describe as a “sexually hostile” work environment.
Five women who worked for Vito J. Lopez, the assemblyman at the center of a broadening sexual harassment scandal, described in interviews an atmosphere of sexual pressure and crude language in his office, with frequent unwanted advances by him and others, requests for provocative dress, personal questions about their boyfriends and fears of reprisals if they complained.
By their accounts, Mr. Lopez, 71, a Brooklyn Democrat, told some women not to wear bras to work. He requested they wear short skirts and high heels. He gave them cash to buy jewelry and complimented them on their figures, giving special attention to those he called “well endowed.”
He asked about their personal lives, urging them to break up with boyfriends, and berated those women — all of whom were new to politics — who did not compliment him effusively enough, according to several of the women interviewed.
The Assembly released a letter censuring Mr. Lopez, one of the city’s last powerful political bosses, taking away his committee chairmanship and barred him from employing interns or anyone under the age of 21. The letter described “pervasive unwelcome verbal conduct” and found that Mr. Lopez verbally harassed, groped and kissed two of his staff members without their consent.
It’s a troubling trend for Democrats, especially during a campaign year. The Obama White House stands accused of actual pay inequality; Obama’s team has been described as a “boys’ club;” and Democrats attacked Ann Romney for being a stay-at-home-mom.
Exhibit B in the real “war on women.”