State lawmakers are accused of sexual misconduct and creating a hostile work environment in anonymous postings being shared on Instagram by a new account collecting experiences of purported current and former legislative staffers.
The “Dear NYS Staffer” account, which is modeled after a viral account sharing anecdotes from people of color working in Congress, was created to “bring transparency and awareness to the working conditions of government employees across New York State,” but their focus is primarily on stories from the state Legislature, according to a post that was shared on Monday. In just a few days the account amassed more than 1,500 followers and generated dozens of alleged experiences of what it’s like working for state lawmakers and as a member of central staff in both houses.
The account notes in a post that they’re not claiming “any information published is based in fact” and it’s not clear if they have a method of verifying that people sending them anecdotes ever worked in the legislature.
Anonymous posts that the account has shared touch on many familiar aspects of life as a staffer, including the practice of amassing compensatory time that can only be used for political campaigns or simply lost, the challenge of living on legislative salaries and demanding schedules. The account has also shared stories about incumbent lawmakers and staff members engaged in sexual harassment and creating hostile work environments that contributed to staff turnover.
Representatives for the Assembly and Senate Democratic majorities did not respond to questions about whether they would investigate claims raised by the account or make referrals to another entity that could pursue an inquiry.
Sexual Harassment Working Group member Erica Vladimer said the legislative leaders have a responsibility to investigate complaints highlighted by the account and address concerns about workplace conditions, including salaries, hours and expectations.
“When these things become the worst kept secrets, it’s always the responsibility of leadership to take action and part of that is investigating this type of conduct,” Vladimer said.