NEW YORK — Carolyn Maloney, a House Democrat from New York, said Thursday she will introduce legislation designed to prevent employers from invoking Worker’s Compensation laws to shield them from civil liability in cases when employer negligence results in sexual assault of an employee.
Maloney made her comments at a press conference in front of Saks Fifth Avenue here in connection with the February 1994 sexual assault of a female employee by a security guard there and its aftermath.
The legislation carries a working title of the Violence Against Women in the Workplace Act, and Maloney wants to introduce it when Congress reconvenes.
“Saks is trying to hide behind Worker’s Compensation,” Maloney said. “I say it is a sad, sad day in America when rape is considered a condition of the workplace.”
Also at the press conference were State Sen. Catherine Abate (D., N.Y.), Anne Conners, the New York City chapter president of the National Organization for Women, and the victim’s mother, Carol Chandler.
Maloney, Abate and NOW said Saks is using Worker’s Compensation to label what happened to the victim as a “work-related accident.”
Following the protest, Saks held its own press conference at corporate headquarters, which included comments from Philip Miller, chairman and chief executive officer, and Joan Krey, Saks vice president and general counsel.
“Sexual assault in the workplace is criminal,” Miller said. “We regret that the incident ever occurred.”