Roosevelt Island Operating Corp
Please take notice that an emergency meeting of the RIOC Board of Directors
will be held on Tuesday, May 18th, 2021 at 5:30 P.M., via videoconference.
According to the
May 18 RIOC Emergency Board Meeting Agenda, the sole item to be discussed is pending litigation. This discussion will be
conducted in Executive Session, closed to the public.
Although not confirmed, it is likely that the pending litigation to be
discussed at today’s emergency RIOC Board meeting is the wrongful termination
lawsuit brought by former RIOC President Susan Rosenthal
members of NY State Governor Andrew Cuomo’s executive staff and individual
members of the RIOC Board of Directors.
According to this June 20 statement from Rich Azzopardi, Senior advisor to NY Governor Andrew Cuomo:
A complaint was made to the Governor’s office and others on June 12th by an employee of the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation that alleged that the President of the organization had used inappropriate language and engaged in inappropriate conduct in the workplace.
This complaint was immediately referred to the New York State Governor’s Office of Employee Relations for investigation. This investigation substantiated that the President had used racially and sexually offensive language, in clear violation of State policy and the strict standards set by this Administration. The President was Immediately terminated.
The specific allegations made by the employee are contained in an email shown at this prior post)
Ms Rosenthal has remained silent until now. On October 19 Mr Rosenthal filed a lawsuit in NY State Supreme Court alleging wrongful termination. According to
the lawsuit (Page 1-2):
… Rosenthal, until her abrupt and improper termination on June 19, 2020,
was the President of the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation
(“RIOC”, or “Respondent”). A long time, fierce advocate for civil rights
and, more recently, a supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement
Rosenthal, a white female, brought an increased level of racial diversity
to RIOC over her more than five year tenure as President. It is thus both
ironic and tragic that Respondents blindly accepted the malicious, false
and baseless allegations of racism and using sexist language from a known
malcontent employee (the “Employee”).
Rushing to announce their decision to terminate Petitioner on Juneteenth,
Respondents conducted a brief, sham investigation which ignored
irrefutable evidence that the allegations were nonsense. Had the
Respondents conducted a good faith investigation, they would have quickly
come to that conclusion. Instead, not only did Respondents terminate
Rosenthal in violation of their own internal policies, but they did so
with a public announcement which had the anticipated effect of besmirching
a more than 45 year long exemplary career.
In short, in order to obtain some cheap publicity on Juneteenth, they
arbitrarily, maliciously and in violation of law threw Rosenthal under the
proverbial bus. By this special proceeding, Rosenthal seeks reinstatement,
back pay, attorneys’ fees and damages.
Also (Page 9):
… When she was hired in 2015, Rosenthal was warned by RIOC management of a
‘cabal,’ which included Employee, which targeted management and sought to
oust them from RIOC. Roosenthal was told to be careful because of their
propensity. Again further proving the axiom that no good deed goes
unpunished, Rosenthal even supported the promotion and increased pay
On May 14, 2021 Ms Rosenthal won a significant victory when her
discovery motion seeking information which RIOC objected to providing was
granted by the NY State Supreme Court. According to the Court decision, RIOC is ordered to produce to Ms Rosenthal (the Petitioner):
… 1. Copies of all recordings of Petitioner;
2. Notes of any interviews with persons complaining about Petitioner;
3. Drafts of the June 19, 2020 press release, and any communications
relating to such press release;
4. Communications concerning the decision to terminate Petitioner;
5. Communications, including but not limited to emails, memos and status
reports, from Petitioner or other RIOC employees, to government officials,
concerning or referring to the steam tunnel on Roosevelt Island, and any
documents reflecting the government’s reaction to those communications;
6. Communications, including but not limited to emails, memos and status
reports, from Petitioner or other RIOC employees, to government officials,
concerning or referring to the public health and safety hazards regarding
the steam tunnel on Roosevelt Island, including but not limited to the
reports from the United States Army Corps of Engineers and Langan
Engineering and Environmental Services, Inc., and any documents reflecting
the government’s reaction to those communications….
Below is copy of the May 14 decision.
Will RIOC, the Governor’s staff and RIOC Directors decide to settle with Ms Rosenthal rather than produce what could be damaging information about the reasons for her firing last June 19?
Also, on April 27, 2021 Ms Rosenthal filed another lawsuit in NY State Supreme Court against RIOC, members of the Governor’s Staff and members of the RIOC Board of Directors.
According to excerpts for the lawsuit:
… 2. Rosenthal, until her abrupt and improper termination on June 19, 2020,
was the President and Chief Executive Officer of RIOC. Despite her exemplary
record as a promoter of a diverse and equitable workplace over her more than
five year tenure as President and Chief Executive Officer, Rosenthal was the
subject of a malicious, false and baseless complaint of racism and use of
sexist language on June 12, 2020 from a known malcontent employee (the
“Employee”). The Albany Defendants immediately commenced an investigation
which quickly showed that the allegations against Rosenthal were
3. That did not deter the Albany Defendants. The Governor’s Office was already
motivated to “get” Rosenthal because she had repeatedly complained about a
potentially catastrophic safety situation on Roosevelt Island. Rosenthal
refused to accept the Governor’s Office’s determination to just sweep the
problem under the rug and wrote and had delivered a detailed memo highlighting
the issue. As a result of Rosenthal’s repeated demands upon the Governor’s
Office to take action on this issue, it was only then that the Albany
Defendants decided to make the complaints against Rosenthal a basis for her
termination. During the investigation of the unfounded complaint, the Albany
Defendants purported to learn of audio tapes which supposedly contained the
voice of Plaintiff making racist and sexually harassing statements. The Albany
Defendants told Rosenthal of the supposed existence of the tapes but refused
to allow her the opportunity to listen to them, a refusal which continues to
4. It now appears that none of the Defendants ever actually had possession of
the tapes. They refuse to disclose who created the tapes, how and when they
were prepared, on what type of device, all of the voices which were on the
tapes, or any other identifying information. None of the Defendants made any
effort to authenticate the tapes. Moreover, given the restrictions in place
during the Covid-19 pandemic, it is likely that whatever it was that certain
of Defendants claimed to have listened to was heard over a telephone or
5. Rosenthal denied that she had ever used the language as attributed to her.
Instead of taking the time to conduct a fair and thorough investigation, or to
even allow Rosenthal to listen to the audio tapes, the Albany Defendants
rushed to announce their decision to terminate Rosenthal on “Juneteenth,” a
date celebrating the end of slavery in America. Not only did Defendants
terminate Rosenthal in violation of their own internal policies, but they did
so with a public announcement which had the anticipated and intended effect of
besmirching a more than 45 yearlong exemplary career.
6. Rosenthal’s termination violated federal, city and state law,
a. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, New York State Human Rights Law
and New York City Human Rights Law in that Rosenthal was treated differently
because she is a Caucasian female; and
b. New York State Labor Law §740 in that Rosenthal’s termination was
retaliation for complaining about a safety hazard on Roosevelt Island that an
engineering report stated could have a “catastrophic” consequence.
Below is copy of Ms Rosenthal’s April 27, 2021 complaint filed in the NY Supreme Court.