Lightfoot says she was ‘sexually harassed in a workplace,’ sympathizes with Cuomo accusers

“Every woman who has been sexually harassed in a workplace setting, as I have been, understands how difficult it is for a woman to come forward and to speak her truth,” the mayor said.

SHARE Lightfoot says she was ‘sexually harassed in a workplace,’ sympathizes with Cuomo accusers
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot speaks during a press conference at City Hall in the Loop, Tuesday morning, Feb. 23, 2021,

Mayor Lori Lightfoot her personal workplace experiences help her feel a personal connection to women who have accused New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo of sexual harassment.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Acknowledging she, too, has been “sexually harassed in a workplace setting,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Tuesday sympathized with three women who have come forward to accuseNew York Gov. Andrew Cuomo of sexual harassment.

The mayor didn’t say when she was sexually harassed in the workplace or by whom. Nor did she say what job she held at the time or whether she filed a complaint against her alleged harasser.

Top aides offered no further details on the mayor’s remarks.

Lightfoot simply used her personal experience to explain why she feels a personal connection to three women who have accused Cuomo of sexual harassment and why she believes this “Me, too” moment cannot be ignored.

“Every woman who has been sexually harassed in a workplace setting, as I have been, understands how difficult it is for a woman to come forward and to speak her truth,” the mayor said.

“We are way past time in this country where any kind of behavior that looks like that should be acceptable. Part of the challenge is that while we have opened up opportunities for women in the workplace, we’ve opened up opportunities in institutions made by and for men. This provides us with another opportunity to really re-think what our institutional culture and structures are.”

In 2017, sexual harassment allegations against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein triggered a “Me, Too” avalanche of allegations against men in acting, the media, the restaurant industry and politics.

Nearly four years later, Lightfoot said no woman should have to worry about anything in the workplace other than doing a “good job.” And doing a good job “shouldn’t be measured by her perceived beauty or lack thereof” by a man in the workplace and certainly not by “somebody who holds the kind of power the governor does,” the mayor said.

“This is, I think, a powerful lesson on a very public and national, if not international, platform that sexual harassment cannot be tolerated in the workplace by anyone,” Lightfoot said.

Three women, all former Cuomo aides, have now come forward to accuse him of sexual harassment.

Cuomo has denied the allegations. But, in an extraordinary statement released Sunday, the New York governor acknowledged that some of his past behavior in the workplace may “have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation. ... To be clear, I never inappropriately touched anybody and I never propositioned anybody and I never intended to make anyone feel uncomfortable.”

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a press conference at the New York Stock Exchange on May 26, 2020.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is facing sexual harassment allegations.

Getty

Lightfoot said Cuomo’s statement “sounds like a recognition on his part that he said and did some things that were inappropriate.”

“The fact that one of the young women immediately made a report to the chief of staff, a woman, and to the special counsel, also a woman, and that the solution was to move her to another job — I think that raises some serious questions,” the mayor said.

“Young women in the workplace should just be able to go do their job and not have to worry about having to be put into the kind of uncomfortable circumstance that way too many women, myself included, have experienced in the workplace. It just shouldn’t happen.”

Lightfoot laughed when asked whether Cuomo deserves to be re-elected, saying it’s up to New York voters to decide — after New York’s female attorney general conducts her investigation of the alleged harassment in Cuomo’s office.

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