NY lawmaker criticized Silver but had own harassment suit
Oct 18, 2012 Written by Joseph Spector
ALBANY — Assemblyman Steve Katz, a Westchester Republican, has strongly criticized a secret deal in June by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to settle a sexual-harassment case involving a Brooklyn lawmaker. But Katz had his own sexual-harassment court fight.
In 2002, a former female employee at Katz’s Bronx veterinary office sued Katz and his business after she claimed a co-worker sexually harassed her and that Katz didn’t investigate. She was fired a month after she brought her concerns to Katz, court papers said.
The case was settled for about $105,000 in 2006 after Katz, of Yorktown, tried to dismiss the lawsuit, the records showed. Katz, meanwhile, let his veterinarian license expire, and the state Department of State in January dissolved his hospital’s corporation because of tax issues, state records showed.
According to the state Education Department, Katz’s license expired July 31. After Gannett’s Albany Bureau inquired about the expiration, he renewed it Wednesday online, state officials said. He has to pay a $10 fee for every delinquent month.
Katz’s attorney, Susan Chana Lask, said Katz has given up practicing as a veterinarian because of his job as an assemblyman.
The corporation for Katz’s animal hospital, the Bronx Veterinarian Center, was dissolved by the state because it apparently had not filed tax returns for at least two years, the state Department of Taxation and Finance said Thursday.
The business is still open. There was no immediate comment Thursday from Lask about the facility’s status.
Lask said this week that the sexual-harassment case was resolved amicably. She said the first-term assemblyman was not found to have committed any wrongdoing.
“There was no allegation that Assemblyman Katz engaged in sexual harassment,” she said in an e-mail.
In July 2001, Lanett Daniels told Katz that a co-worker had made advances toward her at Concourse Animal Hospital, the hospital’s original name when it opened in 1995, according to her complaint.
She gave Katz a tape recording of allegedly being harassed by a co-worker, David Miller, who was also named in the suit.
Katz told her she didn’t have a case, the complaint said. He returned the tape a month later unraveled, Daniels alleged. Daniels was let go a week later.
Katz claimed Daniels wasn’t qualified as a veterinary technician and had an “inappropriate attitude,” court papers said. A judge in 2003 rejected Katz’s attempt to dismiss the case.
“A question of fact has been established whether Daniels’ termination was motivated by her insistence of an investigation of the sexual harassment complaints,” state Supreme Court judge Sallie Manzanet wrote in the 2003 decision.
Lask said the case was appealed after the settlement because Katz disagreed with his original attorneys over the deal. She said Katz wanted to go to trial. The appeal was denied in 2007, and the settlement was upheld.
“The Daniels case involved only allegations of sexual harassment against an employee, not against Assemblyman Katz,” she said in an e-mail. “He was only named in the case because Daniels alleged an occurrence at his animal hospital, which is a small business.”
Daniels’ attorney in the case, Jack Tuckner, declined comment.