Alexandra Bonacarti has been a Staff Attorney with the New York County Defender Service (“NYCDS”) for twenty years, distinguishing herself as a talented, dedicated, and highly effective advocate for indigent clients. For years, Ms. Bonacarti was sexually harassed by Christopher Boyle, another staff attorney who NYCDS eventually promoted to a supervisory position. When Ms. Bonacarti complained to NYCDS Management about the promotion, Executive Director Stanislao Germán said that the harassment she experienced was “ancient history,” and that she should “deal with it.”
Boyle took advantage of his new position of authority to continue harassing Ms. Bonacarti, going so far as to show up in court when she was scheduled to appear at arraignments for no other reason than to leer at and intimidate her. She complained about the incident at arraignments, but, rather than taking disciplinary action against Boyle, NYCDS retaliated against Ms. Bonacarti—suspending her for three weeks in response to an “anonymous” complaint from a coworker, likely Boyle.
On October 30, 2017, Beranbaum Menken filed a lawsuit in State court on Ms. Bonacarti’s behalf, alleging sexual harassment, sex-based harassment, sex discrimination and unlawful retaliation under the New York City Human Rights Law, Administrative Code of the City of New York, §§ 8-101 et seq., as well as common law claims of negligent training and retention of a supervisor, negligent supervision, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
The New York Law Journal recently published an in-depth article on this case, which is being handled by John A. Beranbaum with assistance from Marielle Moore: “Public Defender Organization Accused of Retaliation Over Staff Attorney's Sexual Harassment Allegations _ New York Law Journal”