GLENS FALLS (AP) — New York state has appealed an arbitrator’s decision to reinstate a state employee accused of sexually harassing female co-workers, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office said Monday.
The worker, Chad Dominie, was suspended last year from his job as an administrative assistant in an upstate office of a state agency that cares for the developmentally disabled. Women in the office said Dominie exposed himself in the office, groped them, called them “whores” and threatened sexual assault.
But an arbitrator ruled this summer that Dominie didn’t deserve termination and should return to work. Cuomo’s office said it directed the state attorney general’s office to file an appeal to challenge that decision.
“We have zero tolerance for harassment, period, and we will pursue every available avenue to keep abusers out of the workplace,” said Richard Azzopardi, a senior adviser to the governor.
Dominie declined to comment on Monday. He has acknowledged calling co-workers “whores” and engaging in what he called “horse playing.” But he has said he didn’t touch anyone inappropriately or expose himself in the office in Glens Falls, about an hour north of Albany.
The appeal was filed on Thursday, though not announced until Monday. Before the appeal was announced, one of Dominie’s former co-workers said she was shocked and disgusted to learn that Dominie will be returning to work. Mary Tromblee is a nurse and one of the employees who complained about Dominie’s conduct.
Tromblee said the case shows weaknesses in state laws and employee policies intended to crack down on harassment.
Dominie, who made $41,000 a year before his suspension, was arrested and ultimately pleaded guilty last year to a harassment violation — less than a misdemeanor.