Questions Surround Locher's Harassment Training

Dennis Gabryszak's former Chief of Staff says he did not receive specific training as a manager on what to do when several of the women accusing the now former Assemblyman of sexual harassment complained to him.

"Do you feel that you've had sufficient sexual harassment training as someone who was working for the state and working the State Assemblyman?" asked 2 On Your Side's Kelly Dudzik Monday night.

"I need to make it very clear, I need to make it very clear that I never received management training on what to do when a member of the staff, either a colleague when I was district office manager, or a subordinate when I was chief of staff came to me with complaints of that nature," says Adam Locher, who is now unemployed.

Locher received a promotion from his long-time employer, Gabryszak, in 2012. That is when he became Chief of Staff.

While documents obtained by 2 On Your Side from the Speaker's office show Locher signed into, and received, sexual harassment training in 2007, 2009 and 2011, Locher's attorney says his client never went through training last year. That is when Speaker Silver announced sweeping reform for the Assembly's sexual harassment policies.

Locher's attorney, Andy Fleming, says that means Locher never received specific training on how to respond as a manager.

Lindy Korn is an attorney who focuses on workplace environment cases, especially those involving sexual harassment.

"The supervisors or the managers, they have a special duty because what they do, because of their high level, actually creates liability for the head of the organization," says Korn.

The handout included in the 2011 training has a section on "manager/supervisor responsibilities," which included the chain of command and who Locher should have forwarded any concerns.

The Speaker's office says the repeated trainings should have taught Locher his responsibilities for when staffers came to him with potential problems.

"You had to be living under a rock for the last forty years to think that somehow this was acceptable workplace behavior because it's not," says Assemblyman Sean Ryan about the case.

Assemblyman Ryan thinks the policies are strong enough and says staffers in regional offices go through face-to-face training every two years and get written material. He even goes through it himself. Ryan adds that staffers receive phone numbers of independent investigators to handle complaints.

"So you're saying the people in that office had access to all of the information they needed in order to appropriately report any sexual harassment accusations that were out there?" asked Dudzik.

"Yeah, especially the Chief of Staff. He was the one who enjoyed the benefit of the direct training where staff from Albany actually came in to Buffalo and sat down and explained the policies, answered questions, very in depth training. I would hazard to say it's more in depth training than you would get at any private company," says Ryan.

Korn warns the effectiveness of the policies all depends on the training.

"If the people who were to receive the complaint have not had training, and don't know what to do next, that is a problem," she says.

"You could have the best policies in the world, but they're all for naught if people just don't follow them and that's what happened in this case. I wouldn't call it a failure of an institution. It was the failure of an individual or individuals in that office," says Ryan.

2 On Your Side also talked with another Chief of Staff in the Assembly Tuesday who confirms he has not received any sexual harassment training.


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