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NYC Parks Department employees strip for promotions, allegedly

By Kristen Butler, UPI.com
NYC Parks Department employees strip for promotions, allegedly
Pole dancing. (CC/Sherry Zhang)

New York City Parks Department officials are facing an investigation for allegedly forcing seasonal female staffers to pole-dance and strip at office parties in exchange for permanent jobs.

At Christmas and New Year’s parties, seasonal employees allegedly performed for as many as ten men at a time, reportedly receiving tips for getting naked or dancing, and in some cases having the money stuffed down their pants.

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Two women who claim harassment from the department shared text messages referring to the alcohol-fueled pole-dancing parties with the New York Daily News.

"The men started demanding a lot more. They were like, ‘You want us to give you money, show us something,'" one woman said. "And for the New Year’s party, it got really grabby. Some women stripped to their panties and bras, and men were slapping asses. It was out of control."

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The parties were allegedly held in a so-called "boom-boom room" at a city-owned facility since as far back as 2009. Male workers created a stripper pole out of a wire spool and pieces of wood that they found on the premises.

Sexual harassment complaints against the city’s Parks Department are common, and investigators are now reviewing previous complaints filed against the agency. Marc LaVorgna, a spokesman for Mayor Bloomberg, said the latest harassment complaints are being taken seriously by City Hall.

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"If true, it’s utterly deplorable in every sense," LaVorgna said. "The Parks Department acted immediately after learning of the allegations and the Department of Investigations is conducting a full probe. Once all the facts are established, appropriate steps will be taken immediately."

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James Cafaro, a high-level Parks Deptartment official, is under investigation for allegedly harassing low-wage seasonal workers under his supervision, sending inappropriate text messages to one and inappropriately touching another by putting his face up her skirt while they were alone in the elevator.

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