Lawsuit:Internal Investigation of Marc Baez Found He Violated Partnership's Sexual Harassment Policy
By Creating A Hostile Work Environment
Former VP Resnick Alleged 2.5 Years of Harassment
2016 Suit Settled in 2017 With Non-Disclosure Language
SullivanTimes Inquiries Met With Silence, Denials
Photo: Marc Baez, President & CEO of Partnership For Economic Development (2015 file photo)
A State Supreme Court, Sullivan County lawsuit was filed in February 2016 by Michele Resnick against Marc Baez, the president and CEO of the Partnership for Economic Development, alleging that for 2.5 years he sexually harassed the former vice president/director of marketing for the Partnership who later resigned. The suit was before Justice Stephan G. Schick.
According to the suit: "Although an internal investigation into plaintiff's complaint about the harassment confirmed that Baez had violated the organization's sexual harassment policy by creating a hostile work environment, the Partnership did not undertake appropriate remedial measures. To that end, the Partnership acquiesced in and condoned the harassment in violation of the New York Executive Law. Plaintiff also suffered retaliation for complaining about her work environment. As a consequence of that retaliation, plaintiff resigned her position. "
The Partnership's law firm, Jackson Lewis, had denied all the allegations in its reply -- but later settled the case.
Reached Thursday morning, Resnick said she had no comment. The SullivanTimes also left a message for Baez via Jennifer Clayton in the Partnership office, as well as James Bates, the current chair of the partnership. Former Partnership chairs Jacob Billig and Karen Fisher did not respond to to our multiple inquiries over the past two months. Bates and Fisher are members of the Partnership's Governance Committee that deals with ethics. Today (Thursday, July 18), Billig declined comment when reached at his law office. Fred Stabbert, publisher of the Democrat, served as chair of Partnership Board for four years and currently chairs the Partnership's marketing committee. He was chair of the Partnership in 2013. The suit alleges that Resnick complained directly to Stabbert but that it was not taken seriously.
Resnick also alleged in the suit that when Billig was elevated to chair of the Partnership in January 2015 , she brought her complaint to him and Billig proceeded to retain an outside investigator named Rebecca Maison in February 2015.
According to the suit, "Maison's investigation (completed in March 2015) corroborated Plaintiff's sexual harassment complaint."
Billig then sent Resnick a memo on March 18, 2015 confirming that "Marc Baez exhibited behavior towards you that violated (the Partnership's sexual harassment) policy, " according to the suit. But when Baez retaliated against Resnick for her complaint, Resnick alleges that the Partnership did not take any action. Resnick resigned in October 2015.
The SullivanTimes was first made aware of the allegations two months ago by a source with knowledge of the situation. That source at the time told us that a settlement was reached but that both parties -- including the entire Partnership Board -- signed off on the settlement that included non-disclosure language that prohibited them from discussing it.
The SullivanTimes, over the past two months, has called and emailed multiple Board members asking them about the allegations. Most did not return our phone calls and emails and some defended Baez, including two who said they did not believe he could act that way.
County Manager Josh Potesek, an honorary director of the Partnership, is featured prominently on the Partnership's webpage in a video touting its work. The County allocated $125,000 for the Partnership in its most recent budget. Potosek -- through Dan Hust, director of communications for the County -- declined comment. The Sullivan County Industrial Development Agency (IDA) sent $18,750 to the Partnership for the first quarter of 2019.
Among the allegations made in the suit were ongoing sexually suggestive remarks. They included:
"Let's get it over with - let's go in the closet."
"You know it's going to happen - you are so uptight - you need sex."
"Let me see your ____."
"Everyone wants me, I don't know why you don't."
"I will show you what a real man is like"
Resnick's lawsuit further alleged that Baez said that Resnick's success at increasing membership in the Partnership was the result of "sleeping around."
The suit was discontinued in February 2017 in a stipulation signed by Stephen Bergstein, the attorney in New Paltz who represented Resnick and Greg Riolo, the attorney for Jackson Lewis (White Plains office), representing the Partnership.
The original lawsuit can be found at www.facebook.com/sullivancatskillstimes