Sex harassment claim against former Rotterdam official settled
ROTTERDAM Former Public Works Coordinator Michael Griesemer has reached an out-of-court settlement with a female subordinate who accused him of using his authority to coax her into a sexual affair that occurred at times on town property.
Attorneys representing Vicki Carrieri, who is still employed as a clerk in Rotterdam’s Department of Public Works, settled with Griesemer and the town earlier this month to resolve the civil rights claim filed in U.S. District Court last year. On June 9, Judge Gary Sharpe discontinued the case with prejudice after the parties reached an undisclosed monetary settlement.
Carrieri’s lawyer confirmed the case had been resolved, but declined to discuss any particulars of the settlement.
“The matter has been settled,” attorney Joseph Dougherty said, declining to discuss the case further.
Likewise, Griesemer’s attorney had nothing to add about the settlement other than to acknowledge one had been reached.
“I have no comment other than the case has been settled,” said Joshua Lindy, a lawyer with the firm defending Griesemer, who resigned his post in April 2012 after Carrieri’s allegations became public.
Town Supervisor Harry Buffardi could not be reached for comment for this story.
Carrieri’s complaint accused Griesemer of making sexual overtures toward her shortly after she became a clerk in the town supervisor’s office in 2005. She also accused Griesemer — who was married at the time — of using his authority to move her to the DPW office in 2007, where he coerced her into having the sexual affair.
“These incidents occurred at various locations, including but not limited to in defendant Griesemer’s office, at town parks, at an abandoned town property, in town vehicles, and in defendant Griesemer’s home,” Attorney Joe Dougherty stated in the amended complaint filed in November. “While [Carrieri] tried to refuse these advances, she ultimately gave in to defendant Griesemer’s pressure and coercion.”
Carrieri accused Griesemer of using his position to isolate her, so they could be alone together. She claimed she ultimately broke off the sexual relationship in 2008, but that Griesemer’s harassment never relented and he became “rude, overtly hostile, aggressive, verbally abusive, and physically violent” toward her at work.
Carrieri’s complaint indicated she reported a hostile work environment to other town officials, but was repeatedly ignored. She claims she notified Buffardi of the harassment in January 2012 and was subsequently moved out of the DPW office, but that Buffardi did nothing to prevent Griesemer from interacting with her via email or through work assignments.
The 30-page amended complaint asserts that the Buffardi administration was aware of Carrieri’s harassment complaint, but did little to prevent Griesemer from interacting with her. She also accused the town of retaliation by abruptly eliminating her “out-of-title” pay after she complained about Griesemer’s harassment in January 2012.
Carrieri claimed Griesemer often boasted of his power in the town in an effort to prevent her from filing workplace violence or harassment complaints against him or other town workers.
Griesemer formerly led the town’s Democratic Committee and was appointed to the vacant highway superintendent’s position by then-town Supervisor John Paolino in 2002. After losing his bid for re-election and just two days before relinquishing control of the Highway Department, Griesemer ran unopposed to become chairman of the Democratic Committee. Griesemer led the party for about a year, at which point Paolino brought him back on the payroll as a supervisor to spearheaded a reorganization of the Public Works Department. Despite allegations of cronyism over his appointment, Griesemer remained at the post through several different administrations, including those of Republican Steve Tommasone, Conservative Frank Del Gallo and Buffardi, a Democrat.