Seasonal employees of the New York City Parks Department allegedly stripped for male colleagues at Christmas and New Year’s Eve parties, going back to at least 2009, sources told the Daily News. Workers who “got on the pole” were given additional work or permanent jobs.
Raunchy parties thrown by Parks Department supervisors took place in the so-called “boom boom” room at a city-owned facility.
On female worker, who remained anonymous, says that parties got raunchier with each year.
“The men started demanding a lot more. They were like, ‘You want us to give you money, show us something,’” she said. “And for the New Year’s party, it got really grabby. Some women stripped to their panties and bras, and men were slapping asses. It was out of control.”
An array of sexual harassment complaints followed, including a female who alleged her supervisor accosted her while they were alone in an elevator. According to the complaint the supervisor, lifted the woman’s shirt, licked her stomach, and shoved his face in her crotch.
Another complaint filed by a female workers said a she received sexually suggestive texts and inappropriate contact from supervisors, one of whom snapped her bra strap.
A probe was launched by the Department of Investigation.
“On Wednesday, May 22, the Parks Department was made aware of sexual harassment allegations made by one full-time and one seasonal female parks worker against two male supervisors in the Five-Borough Technical Services division,” said Parks and Recreation spokesman Arthur Pincus. “Parks immediately referred the matter to the Department of Investigation.”
Pincus said the two women were transferred at their request.
Some workers approached their union representatives to file complaints.
“I will do anything to protect my members, and fight for them. When these women came forward we got them out,” said Dilcy Benn, president of District Council 37 Local 1505. “I brought this to [Assistant Commissioner] David Stark and to his credit within two minutes he made a phone call and moved them.”
Sources told the Daily News that deputy chief of operation James Cafaro and his supervisor, Angelo Figueroa, were identified in the complaints. Both men were reportedly transferred pending an investigation.
Sources say the parties usually took place on the second floor of a Parks building, and one floor below Cafaro and Figueroa set up X-rate entertainment. One female worker recalled a man at last year’s Christmas party shouted, “If you want a job, get on the pole.”
The Daily news published a text from Cafaro to a female employee telling her “I want to get u but u won’t let me.”
Cafaro, 53, who is married with children, allegedly shoved a $20 into the pants of a coworker at one of the parties. He has worked in the Parks Department since 1986. He is responsible for overseeing about 80 city workers.