Operation Ghost Ride: A.G. Schneiderman Announces Sentencing Of Owner Of Albany Transportation Companies For Stealing Thousands In Medicaid Transit Scam

News from Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Attorney General’s Press Office / 212-416-8060

OPERATION GHOST RIDE: A.G. SCHNEIDERMAN ANNOUNCES SENTENCING OF OWNER OF ALBANY TRANSPORTATION COMPANIES FOR STEALING THOUSANDS IN MEDICAID TRANSIT SCAM

Percy Sanville, Jr., Owner of A&N Transportation, And Co-Owner of Ammediate Transport Submitted Bogus Medicaid Claims For Transportation Services

Sanville Sentenced to Two to Six Years in Prison

ALBANY, N.Y. – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the sentencing of Percy Sanville, Jr., 42, owner of A&N Transportation, and Co-Owner of Ammediate Transport upon his conviction of the crime of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class D felony. Sanville was sentenced by Acting Supreme Court Justice Hon. Roger D. McDonough to two to six years in prison.

Sanville previously admitted that he submitted false claims to Medicaid for transportation for himself to physical therapy appointments between September 7, 2016 and November 30, 2016 that never occurred. Sanville’s business partner, Rafael Gonzalez also previously pled guilty to falsely billing Medicaid for transportation that never occurred.  Gonzalez is scheduled to be sentenced on January 5, 2018.

“The defendant and his business partner carried out an elaborate hoax to defraud Medicaid and exploit New Yorkers by billing Medicaid for transportation that never occurred,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “Ghost rides result in costs being passed along to taxpayers, while undermining the vital services on which our most vulnerable depend. My office will not tolerate this behavior and will continue to bring scammers to justice.”

An undercover investigation conducted by the Attorney General’s Office, referred to as “Operation Ghost Ride,” revealed earlier this year that Sanville and Gonzalez stole over $50,000 from Medicaid by submitting fraudulent claims for transportation services that were never provided.

The case was investigated by Albany Regional Office MFCU Investigators John R. Benshoff, Joseph Farrell, and Michael Connelly, with the assistance of Supervising Investigator Dianne Hart and Upstate Deputy Chief Investigator William Falk, and by Auditor Investigator Nathaniel J. Wood with the assistance of Regional Chief Auditor Charles Norfleet.

The case was prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Paul A. Clyne with the assistance of Albany Regional Director Kathleen A. Boland.  Catherine Wagner is MFCU’s Upstate Chief of Criminal Investigations. MFCU is led by Director Amy Held and Assistant Deputy Attorney General Paul J. Mahoney. The Division of Criminal Justice is led by Executive Deputy Attorney General Margaret Garnett. 

Operation Decoy Delivery: A.G. Schneiderman Announces Conviction After Trial Of Ringleader In Insurance Fraud Scheme

News from Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 7, 2017

Attorney General’s Press Office / 212-416-8060
nyag.pressoffice@ag.ny.gov
Twitter: @AGSchneiderman
 

OPERATION DECOY DELIVERY: A.G. SCHNEIDERMAN ANNOUNCES CONVICTION AFTER TRIAL OF RINGLEADER IN INSURANCE FRAUD SCHEME 

Defendant Jean Mythro Davilmar Convicted Of 29 Felony Counts for Massive Scheme to Defraud

Defendant Filed Forged And Falsified Documents To Fraudulently Obtain Commercial Insurance Policies For Over 100 Vehicles 

BROOKLYN – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the conviction after trial of Jean Mythro Davilmar, 68, of Brooklyn, NY for his participation in a massive scheme to fraudulently obtain commercial car insurance policies and New York State vehicle registrations. Over an eight-year period, the defendant and his co-conspirators fraudulently obtained thousands of dollars in discounted insurance policies for over 100 vehicles by registering the cars with fake companies including delivery services, prompting investigators to dub the case “Operation Decoy Delivery.” Davilmar and nine other co-conspirators filed forged and falsified documents with insurance carriers, the Kings County Supreme Court Clerk’s Office, and the New York State Department of Motor Vehicle (“DMV”). After a four-week trial, which included testimony from 26 witnesses and the admission of hundreds of documents, the Honorable Justice Danny Chun found the defendant guilty of 29 felony counts. 

“My office won’t hesitate to prosecute insurance fraudsters – no matter how complex or elaborate the scheme,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “Automobile insurance fraud leads to higher insurance rates for hard-working New Yorkers, while jeopardizing public safety by allowing falsely registered and improperly insured vehicles to operate on our roads. Those plotting similar scams to undermine state agencies or defraud insurance providers should take note: we will hold you accountable.”

“Insurance fraud is a crime that results in higher premiums for law-abiding New Yorkers,” said New York State Department of Financial Services Superintendent Maria T. Vullo.  “This defendant allegedly deprived insurers of hundreds of thousands of dollars in premiums by engaging in an elaborate scheme that included falsifying and forging documents, lying about the purpose, locations and operators of vehicles, and using false addresses. DFS is proud to have assisted the New York State Office of the Attorney General in stopping this fraud and bringing this defendant to justice.”

“The National Insurance Crime Bureau applauds the staff of the New York State Attorney General’s Office for their continued efforts in combatting insurance fraud in New York,” said Kevin Gallagher, Regional Director of the Northeast Region of the National Insurance Crime Bureau. “The cost of insurance fraud is shared by all consumers.  Commercial premium fraud enables unscrupulous individuals and businesses to gain an unfair advantage over those who follow the law. This conviction sends a strong message to other individuals who may be contemplating engaging in insurance fraud. We look forward to our continued partnership with the Attorney General’s Office in fighting against insurance fraud for the benefit of all New Yorkers.”

The evidence at trial showed that between May 2006 and June 2014, Davilmar and his co-defendants engaged in a complex scheme to obtain commercial auto insurance for themselves and others in the names of fictitious business partnerships by submitting falsified documents and making false statements to multiple governmental agencies and insurance carriers.

The defendants created fictitious business partnerships by filing false documents with the Kings County Supreme Court Clerk’s Office. The defendants then fraudulently obtained commercial automobile insurance for multiple vehicles under the names of these fictitious business partnerships. In order to obtain lower premiums, on the applications for commercial insurance, the defendants falsely represented that the vehicles insured under the policies would be engaged in low-risk businesses such as delivery services, performing carpentry, or photography. To further lower premiums, defendants made additional misrepresentations including providing false pedigree information for purported members of the business partnerships, falsely stating the geographical location where the vehicles were operated and garaged, and misrepresenting the actual operators of the vehicles.

After fraudulently obtaining insurance for vehicles under commercial policies, the defendants submitted false registration and title applications to the DMV, registering the vehicles under the names of the fictitious partnerships. These DMV applications allegedly included forged signatures, false addresses, and fictitious individuals listed as the buyers and sellers of the vehicles. In support of their falsified registration and title applications, defendants also submitted copies of the fraudulently obtained insurance cards as proof that the vehicles had valid insurance in New York State, a prerequisite before the DMV could issue registrations and license plates. 

The evidence at trial further revealed that when a policy was canceled for nonpayment or because the defendants could not maintain the facade that the cars were being used in low-risk businesses, the defendants opened another policy with forged documents and transferred the cars onto the new policy.  

Ringleader Davilmar, who testified at trial, admitted to forming fake companies in order to obtain insurance policies for multiple vehicles. The evidence at trial showed that Davilmar created over a dozen fictitious business partnerships, including Florist Locomotion, Landscaping Express, Cleaners Express, Mybeda Express, Bedamy Express, and Damybe Express. Several of the company names were anagrams of the first two letters of the defendant’s middle and last name and his daughter Bettina’s name. Through the submission of fraudulent documents, including business certificates for these fake entities, Davilmar and his co-conspirators obtained over 20 commercial insurance policies for over 100 vehicles, with coverage limits of up to $50,000 per accident for each vehicle. On cross-examination, Davilmar admitted to repeatedly using the alias “Jean Claude Marcelin” on documents filed with the DMV, the Kings County Clerk’s Office, and multiple auto insurance carriers.

Today, in Kings County Supreme Court, Judge Chun convicted Davilmar of two counts of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree (a Class D felony), 17 counts of Insurance Fraud in the Third Degree (a Class D felony), four counts of Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree (a Class E felony), five counts of Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Second Degree (a Class D felony), and one count of Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree (a Class E felony). Davilmar faces a maximum sentence of up to 10 to 20 years in prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced on January 10, 2018.

In addition to Davilmar, nine other defendants charged by the Attorney General for their participation in this scheme have pleaded guilty, including insurance brokers Thomas Kurian, John Grima, and Keith Ashman. Kurian pleaded guilty to Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree (a class E felony). Grima pleaded guilty to Criminal Facilitation in the Fourth Degree (a class A misdemeanor). Pierre pleaded guilty to Forgery in the Second Degree (a class D felony) and Bettina Confident pleaded guilty to Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the Second Degree (a class A misdemeanor).  

Additionally, the five co-defendants charged along with Davilmar in the Attorney General’s indictment pled guilty as follows: Joe Sainvilus Jr. pleaded guilty to Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Second Degree (a class D felony); Jessica Davilmar pleaded guilty to Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree (a class E felony); George M. Thomas pleaded guilty to Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree (a class E felony); Hermine Celestin pleaded guilty to Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Second Degree (a class A misdemeanor); and Keith M. Ashman pleaded guilty to Criminal Facilitation in the Fourth Degree (a class A misdemeanor). All nine defendants are awaiting sentence.

These arrests are the culmination of a long-term investigation conducted by Attorney General Schneiderman’s Automobile Insurance Fraud Unit. The Attorney General thanks the Department of Financial Services, the DMV, the New York Automobile Insurance Plan and the National Insurance Crime Bureau for their valuable assistance in this case.  The Attorney General also thanks the New York City Marshal’s Office, Progressive Insurance Co., Maidstone Insurance Co., National General Insurance Co., Farm Family Casualty Insurance Co., Assigned Risk Solutions, American Transit Insurance Co., GEICO Insurance Co., Travelers Insurance Co. and the CARCO Group for their instrumental cooperation during this investigation. The Attorney General also thanks the King’s County Clerk’s Office, the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles, and the United States Social Security Administration’s Inspector General’s Office for their valuable assistance. 

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorneys General Kristen Bitetto and Nicholas Hernandez, with the assistance of Supervising Legal Analyst Paul Strocko and Legal Analysts Tatiana Brunvall and Rebecca Jacobson of the Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau. The Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau is led by Bureau Chief Stephanie Swenton and Deputy Bureau Chief/AIFU Unit Chief Joseph G. D’Arrigo. The Division of Criminal Justice is led by Executive Deputy Attorney General Margaret Garnett. 

The case was investigated by Investigator Patrick Lubin, with the assistance of Investigators Zylona Silva and Michael Houlihan, under the direction of Investigators Edward Keegan and Natalie Shifrin and Deputy Chief Leonard D’Alessandro. The Investigations Bureau is led by Chief Dominick Zarrella. Audit work was performed by Forensic Auditor Andre Hartley of the Forensic Audit Section. The Forensic Audit Section is led by Deputy Chief Sandy Bizzarro and Chief Edward J. Keegan. 

A.G. Schneiderman Announces Judgment Against Buffalo Area Home Improvement Contractor Following AG Lawsuit

News from Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 7, 2017

Attorney General’s Press Office / 212-416-8060
nyag.pressoffice@ag.ny.gov
Twitter: @AGSchneiderman
 

A.G. SCHNEIDERMAN ANNOUNCES JUDGMENT AGAINST BUFFALO AREA HOME IMPROVEMENT CONTRACTOR FOLLOWING AG LAWSUIT

 John Kniery, Owner Of Tree Service By John, Bilked New Yorkers Out Of $10,000

 Court Orders Kniery To Pay Full Restitution And $34,500 In Penalties And Fees

 Judgement Bars Kniery From The Home Improvement Business Unless He Posts $50,000 Bond; Also Bars Him From Taking Advance Payments Until He Pays Restitution, Penalties, And Fees

 Schneiderman Offers Tips To Protect New Yorkers Seeking Home Improvement Contracting Services

BUFFALO –Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced that his office won a lawsuit for consumers against John Kniery, a Buffalo-based home improvement contractor that bilked New Yorkers out of over $10,000. Kniery, who did business as Tree Service by John, must now pay $10,000 in restitution to consumers and $34,500 in penalties and costs.

An investigation conducted by the Attorney General’s office uncovered that Kniery defrauded consumers by taking deposits and keeping their money without performing the tree removal services he was contracted to do, or by performing shoddy work. In addition to the restitution and penalties, the order issued by New York State Supreme Court Justice Tracey A. Bannister bans Kniery from engaging in any business in New York until he posts a $50,000 insurance bond. The bond will protect consumers and ensure that they can file a claim against Kniery to get their money back if he fails to perform the work. Additionally, the court order completely bans Kniery from accepting advance payments from consumers until he pays all restitution, penalties, and fees.

“Thanks to our partnership with local law enforcement, impacted Buffalo consumers will get the restitution they deserve,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “My office will continue working to ensure that New Yorkers who pay for home contracting services receive them in a timely and professional manner. If contractors provide anything less, consumers should report them to my office right away.”

The Attorney General launched an investigation into Kniery’s business practices following a recommendation from Detective Howard Wilman of the Hamburg Police Department. After receiving and investigating two complaints about Kniery, Detective Wilman investigated whether there were other criminal complaints against the contractor. Wilman found 16 additional complaints to law enforcement relating to Kniery’s tree service business. Consumers consistently complained that Kneiry did not do work for which he was paid, failed to complete jobs, or executed work in a shoddy manner. As a result, consumers lost hundreds of dollars. In one case, a consumer paid Kniery $2,000 in advance payments to remove several trees from his property. Kniery did not cut down all of the trees, nor did he remove any tree debris from the consumers property, rendering the backyard unusable. Kniery did not complete the work despite repeated calls from the consumer, who ended up paying another company $350 to remove the debris from his yard.

Consumers who have not already filed a complaint with the Attorney General’s office and believe they may have been defrauded by John Kniery should call the Attorney General’s Consumer Help Line in the Buffalo Regional Office at (716) -853-8404 or file an online complaint

The Attorney General encourages homeowners to consider the following tips when planning to use a home improvement contractor:

  • Never agree to have work done on the spot, especially when potential contractors are marketing door-to-door
  • Determine exactly what you want done, then look for a qualified contractor
  • Shop around; get at least three estimates from reputable contractors that include specific information about the materials and services to be provided
  • Ask for references: check with the Better Business Bureau, banks, suppliers, and neighbors.
  • Always contact any references provided to you
  • Insist on a written contract that includes the price and description of the work needed
  • Do not pay unreasonable advance sums; negotiate a payment schedule tied to the completion of specific stages of the job
  • Never pay the full price up front
  • Remember that you have three days to cancel after signing a home improvement contract, but all cancellations must be in writing

Additional information on how to avoid fraudulent home improvement contractors can be found online.

This case was handled by Assistant Attorney General James M. Morrissey, Karen Davis, Senior Consumer Fraud Representative, and Legal Intern Nathan Woodard in the Buffalo Regional Office. The Buffalo Regional Office is led by Assistant Attorney General In Charge Michael Russo. The Division of Regional Offices is led by Executive Deputy Attorney General for Regional Affairs Marty Mack.

A.G. Schneiderman Statement On Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act

News from Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 6, 2017

Attorney General’s Press Office / 212-416-8060
nyag.pressoffice@ag.ny.gov
Twitter: @AGSchneiderman
 

A.G. SCHNEIDERMAN STATEMENT ON CONCEALED CARRY RECIPROCITY ACT

New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman released the following statement upon House passage of the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act:

“Today, the House voted to strip New York law enforcement of their right to enforce common sense policies that keep New Yorkers safe from the scourge of gun violence. 

New York has some of the strongest gun laws in the country. This bill could return New York to the bad old days, by rolling back the protections that have reduced gun-related deaths in New York State to some of the lowest rates in the nation.

This lowest-common-denominator approach would undermine states’ basic responsibility to protect our communities – including by determining who may carry a concealed, loaded gun within our borders. It would risk the lives of our families and our law enforcement officers, while facilitating gun trafficking and promoting mass violence.

With each tragedy, we lament the loopholes in our federal gun laws. Today, the House just voted to create a huge new one.  

I urge the Senate to reject this disastrous legislation.”

This fall, Attorney General Schneiderman led a coalition of 17 Attorneys General in opposing the legislation.

A.G. Schneiderman Announces Lawsuit Alleging Buffalo Music Promoter Defrauded Consumers Of Over $14,000 In Music Festival Scam

News from Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 6, 2017

Attorney General’s Press Office / 212-416-8060
nyag.pressoffice@ag.ny.gov
Twitter: @AGSchneiderman
 

A.G. SCHNEIDERMAN ANNOUNCES LAWSUIT ALLEGING BUFFALO MUSIC PROMOTER DEFRAUDED CONSUMERS OF OVER $14,000 IN MUSIC FESTIVAL SCAM 

Cody Conway Allegedly Charged Nearly 150 New Yorkers For Concert Tickets, Then Cancelled Event Without Refunding Customers 

BUFFALO – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced a lawsuit against Cody Conway, a Buffalo music promoter, and his company, Buffalove Music Festival, LLC. Conway promoted the Buffalove Music Festival 2017, which was to take place from July 20 to July 23 in Franklinville, NY. The complaint alleges that Conway cancelled the festival weeks before the scheduled date and failed to refund customers who purchased tickets to event. In total, 146 New Yorkers purchased tickets from Conway for a combined $14,896.42 including service fees, with tickets ranging from $85 to $125 a piece, the complaint alleges.

“New Yorkers should get what they pay for  and they’re entitled to timely refunds if event organizers don’t follow through on their promises,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “My office won’t tolerate scammers who trick hardworking consumers into forking over cash for performances they’ll never see.”

After receiving consumer complaints, the Attorney General’s office launched an investigation into Conway. As alleged in the complaint, the investigation uncovered that Conway cancelled the festival on June 5, 2017 and – although he promised to provide refunds within 90 days – failed to do so.

The Attorney General’s Office learned that Ticketfly (a site through which Conway sold tickets) made a payment totaling $13,305 to Conway for the tickets that were purchased on their site, and expected that Conway would refund customers. When he failed to do so, Ticketfly provided the refunds to consumers who purchased tickets through their site. However, some would-be concertgoers may have made payments directly to Conway – and therefore did not receive refunds. In particular, Conway still owes one customer $1,000 for a cabin rental during the weekend of the festival. 

During the investigation, the Attorney General’s office served Conway with a subpoena, requiring that he produce records of the ticket sales and have his sworn statement taken. Conway allegedly failed to cooperate with the investigation, leading the Attorney General’s office to file a lawsuit against him. The Attorney General seeks to require that Conway disclose all persons who made payments directly to him and refund those payments. Additionally, the lawsuit seeks to prohibit Conway from promoting concerts or engaging in any business in New York State, until he pays full restitution, penalties, and costs.

The Attorney General encourages consumers purchasing tickets for an event to avoid paying by debit card, wire transfer or pre-paid money transfer. If the event is cancelled, consumers may have a difficult time getting their money back. Consumers who pay by credit card, however, can dispute the charge if the event is cancelled. Consumers who believe they are the victim of a scam should file a complaint online or by calling the consumer helpline at 1-800-771-7755.

This case was handled by Assistant Attorney General James M. Morrissey, and Investigator Erica Law. The Buffalo Regional Office is led by Assistant Attorney General In Charge Michael Russo. The Division of Regional Offices is led by Executive Deputy Attorney General for Regional Affairs Marty Mack.

A.G. Schneiderman Leads 16-AG Coalition Opposing Birth Control Rollback

News from Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 6, 2017

Attorney General’s Press Office / 212-416-8060
nyag.pressoffice@ag.ny.gov
Twitter: @AGSchneiderman
 

A.G. SCHNEIDERMAN LEADS 16-AG COALITION OPPOSING BIRTH CONTROL ROLLBACK

Comments Filed with HHS Follow AG Lawsuit to Protect Access to Birth Control 

Over 62.4 Million Women – Including 3.8 Million New Yorkers – Have Benefitted from ACA Contraceptive Coverage

New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman led a coalition of 16 Attorneys General in filing comments with the federal Department of Health and Human Services opposing the Trump administration’s interim final rules that would roll back birth control coverage.

The comments follow a federal lawsuit filed by Attorneys General including Attorney General Schneiderman seeking to protect access to birth control.

Click here to read the comments, which were filed by the Attorneys General of New York, California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

The Trump administration’s new rules seek to roll back the contraceptive coverage mandate under the Affordable Care Act. Since the ACA’s requirement to cover contraceptives took effect in 2012, it’s saved American women $1.4 billion. Over 62.4 million women have benefitted from the coverage, including 3.8 million in New York.

In their comments, the Attorneys General argue that the federal rules violate the Establishment Clause by allowing employers to use their own religious beliefs to discriminate against employees; the Equal Protection Clause by specifically targeting and harming women; and the Administrative Procedure Act by pushing through these new rules without proper factual and legal basis. Additionally, the Attorneys General argue that the rules would harm their States by leaving millions of women without access to contraceptives and counseling, and by forcing the States to shoulder the financial and administrative burden as women seek contraceptive access through state programs.

“Since the ACA’s requirement that health plans cover contraception benefits and services, women with employer-sponsored coverage have had increased access to contraception, and have saved $1.4 billion in out-of-pocket costs on birth control pills in 2013 alone. The share of women of reproductive age who had out-of-pocket spending on oral contraceptive pills fell sharply after the ACA’s implementation; spending on oral contraceptive pills plummeted from 20.9 percent in 2012 to 3.6 percent in 2014, corresponding to the timing of the contraception provision. Also during this time, the proportion of privately insured women who paid no out-of-pocket costs for oral contraception increased from 15 percent to 67 percent, with similar changes for injectable contraceptives, the vaginal ring and the intrauterine device. To date, over 62.4 million women have benefited from ACA-mandated contraceptive coverage,” the Attorneys General wrote.

“The [Interim Final Rules] at issue will result in harms that are both direct and indirect, tangible and intangible. Access to contraception is fundamental to women’s rights to bodily freedom and to emotional autonomy. It is a public health issue, with effects on unintended pregnancy, maternal health, and infant morbidity. It also implicates economic mobility and wage parity, educational opportunity and social equality. These far-reaching effects are too great to ignore, and are protected by the Constitution, our laws and regulations. Accordingly, we urge the Secretary to rescind the IFRs.”

A.G. Schneiderman Releases “Know Your Rights” Guidance On Sexual Harassment In The Workplace

News from Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 6, 2017

Attorney General’s Press Office / 212-416-8060
nyag.pressoffice@ag.ny.gov
Twitter: @AGSchneiderman
 

A.G. SCHNEIDERMAN RELEASES “KNOW YOUR RIGHTS” GUIDANCE ON SEXUAL HARASSMENT IN THE WORKPLACE  

NEW YORK – Today Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman released updated guidance – “Sexual Harassment in the Workplace: Know Your Rights” – to inform New Yorkers about the laws that protect them from sexual harassment at work. The guidance provides victims of sexual harassment with information on the appropriate agencies to consult should they seek to file a complaint or take legal action, along with helplines for further support.

Sexual harassment is a form of gender-based discrimination that involves unwelcome conduct used as the basis for hiring or other employment decisions – such as promotions, raises, or job assignments – or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment. The harasser can be a supervisor, co-worker, or someone who is not an employee, such as a client or customer. Harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment  or when it results in an adverse employment decision.

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, one in four women experience sexual harassment in the workplace.

“No New Yorker should be forced to walk into a workplace ruled by sexual harassment, intimidation, or fear,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “In recent months, we’ve begun a long-overdue reckoning with the systemic failure of many institutions to protect women and all victims of sexual harassment. This guidance will help New Yorkers understand their rights and their options when it comes to sexual harassment in the workplace.”

The Attorney General’s guidance offers a variety of resources on the rights of victims and all available options to them, beyond reporting harassment to employers, including:

  • Sexual harassment is prohibited by Title VII of the 1964 federal Civil Rights Act, New York State Human Rights Law and, in some instances, local law (for example, the New York City Administrative Code). The NYS Human Rights Law also protects against harassment based on gender identity or transgender status.
  • The law protects both men and women, and also covers incidents in which the harasser and the victim are of the same sex, regardless of sexual orientation.
  • Harassment on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation is prohibited by the New York State Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act (“SONDA”). For more information on SONDA, visit the Attorney General’s website.
  • If harassment involves physical touching, coerced physical confinement, or coerced sex acts, the conduct may constitute a crime and should also be reported to the local police department.
  • Retaliation for making a complaint about sexual harassment is prohibited by law. If this occurs, you may have a separate claim of retaliation, in addition to any claim of sexual harassment. Retaliation occurs when the terms and conditions of one’s work are unfavorably changed as a result of one’s reporting sexual harassment or cooperating with the investigation of a sexual harassment complaint or lawsuit.

The Attorney General’s office represents the People of the State of New York, not individuals making complaints. The Attorney General’s Civil Rights Bureau must determine whether experiences are evidence of a broader pattern, practice, or policy of sexual harassment affecting a significant number of people before commencing an investigation and/or initiating legal action against an employer. 

“The culture of workplaces must change to ensure fairness and equality. Speaking out and knowing your rights are important first steps in combating sexual harassment. But it’s equally critical that bystanders, colleagues, and supervisors must be part of this change by also speaking out and ending the culture of complicity,” said Sonia Ossorio, President, National Organization for Women – New York.

“Everyone has the right to feel safe and secure in the workplace,” said Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins. “The State has an obligation to protect workers from harassment and foster a culture that encourages victims to speak out. I am committed to strengthening workplace protections for all workers and ensuring these protections are enforced at every opportunity.”

“The past few months have provided an historic turning point in the way we talk about and address sexual harassment in the workplace. I want to thank NYS Attorney General Eric Schneiderman for moving so quickly to provide New York’s workers a new ‘Know Your Rights’ Guide on workplace sexual harassment to ensure those suffering silently have the resources and information they need to act,” said Assemblymember Shelley B. Mayer, Chair of the Assembly Task Force on Women’s Issues. “This new guide will ensure those experiencing sexual harassment know their rights and help them determine the best and safest options to protect themselves from further harm and stop the perpetrator from potentially harming others.”

“As we’ve seen in the past few weeks and months, sexual harassment is prevalent in every field,” said Assemblymember Monica Wallace. “Victims often remain silent for fear of retaliation or ridicule. If we want to address this problem, we need to make sure that our laws protect victims and give them the tools they need to speak out and defend their rights. I will be sponsoring legislation in the Assembly that ensures a safe workplace for all women, and I applaud Attorney General Schneiderman for his leadership on this important issue.”

“I applaud Attorney General Schneiderman for his leadership in combating sexual harassment in the workplace and supporting workers’ rights,” said Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee. “Every employee no matter their salary or position, is entitled to a safe, healthy, equitable work environment. Eliminating sexual harassment in the workplace begins with zero tolerance, holding abusers accountable, and empowering victims to fight back without fear of reprisal by keeping workers informed of their rights, including specific steps they can take to file a complaint or initiate a legal action.”

“Every New Yorker deserves to work in a respectful and safe workplace free from sexual harassment and violence. As co-chair of the Women’s Caucus of the New York City Council, I am urging all of us to take full advantage of this incredible historical moment and renew our commitment to building a society — in the workplace and beyond — that fully respects the humanity of all individuals, regardless of their gender or level of social power. Thank you to Attorney General Schneiderman for reiterating and clarifying our protections under the law,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal (Manhattan, District 6).

“Sexual harassment has no place in society, much less in the workplace. We are at a watershed moment in our country where actions that might have been ‘normal’ behavior in the past are no longer acceptable and cannot be tolerated,” said Assemblywoman Sandy Galef. “Despite the many who’ve already come forward, we have only seen the very beginning of allegations as more people find the courage to finally speak their truths. These victims and survivors will need the information provided in the “Know Your Rights Guide” to inform them of their options and to assist them through the process of reporting their abuse. I thank Attorney General Schneiderman for supporting and protecting New York workers by providing this valuable resource.”

“We need to change the sexist workplace culture that intimidates and isolates New York employees. When perpetrators use their positions to treat others sexually in a non-sexual context, they interfere with the right to work and learn without fear,” said New York State Assemblywoman Amy Paulin. “In no way can we allow this egregious behavior to continue. Workers need to know they have recourse ingrained into the law to protect themselves and safely report their abuses. With the national spotlight focused on rooting out and exposing workplace sexual misconduct, now is the time for victims and survivors to come forward to call out their harassers and hold them accountable.”