The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation is being sued by an ex-employee who claims that she was forced to work in a hostile work environment where sexual harassment was pervasive and retaliated against when she lodged complaints.
Pilar Taylor, a Black female, was hired by the parks department as a city park cleaner through its job training program (JTP) in June 2015, according to the complaint. In March 2016 she applied for and was hired as a city park worker (CPW). She claims she was “an exemplary employee and received compliments for her work performance.”
One of Taylor’s supervisors was Michael Palamar, a white male. In June 2015 Taylor became aware of rumors concerning Palamar and sexual activity with 19 and 20-year-old JTPs. Taylor claims she witnessed Palamar and a JTP “in a compromising position” in that she arrived at her place of work “at 6:00 a.m. to find [the JTP] on her knees, under a desk, performing oral sex on [Palamar].” When she complained of the incident she was told Palamar had similar encounters with three other JTPs. Palamar referred to JTPs as “just temporary pussy.”
Taylor claims that others within the parks department, including higher ups, knew about Palamar’s unlawful behavior, but whenever an investigation was undertaken, the women denied that the activity occurred for fear of losing their jobs.
Taylor was sexually harassed by Palamar as well. When she as eating a banana at her desk, Palamar asked if she “swallowed” and said that “he knows Bronx girls like to swallow.” He also groped and touched her inappropriately.
According to the complaint, when Taylor sought to change her employment classification and needed Palamar’s approval he told her “closed legs don’t get fed. You do something for me, I do something for you.”
After lodging a number of complaints concerning Palamar and the sexually charged, hostile work environment, Taylor found an envelope jammed into her locker. It contained a news article from a several years back about Palamar in which another one of his victims stated that “it’s horrible . . . he can do whatever he wants to do and not even [get] a slap on the wrist? . . . he gets to do the same thing? Really?” According to the complaint there was also handwriting on the article stating, “Back off you Black Bitch!! . . . [y]ou should’ve kept your mouth shut.”
Taylor claims she was terminated in August 2017 and Palamar continues to work at the parks department. She claims she “was unlawfully treated, degraded, victimized and embarrassed and, as a result, suffers loss of rights, emotional distress, and physical ailments and injuries.”
Taylor is represented by Marjorie Mesidor of New York city who filed the case in the Southern District of New York.
Image Source: André Gustavo Stumpf (Flickr)