Ousted RIOC CEO Susan Rosenthal’s appeal of a decision ending her lawsuit takes dead aim on discovery. She wants the evidence used in firing her, especially tapes the state says show her using improper language that justified her dismissal. The state and RIOC have fought discovery for over a year now.
by David Stone
Susan Rosenthal’s Appeal
When Supreme Court Justice Shlomo Hagler rejected Rosenthal’s lawsuit in July, her attorney, Steven Storch, vowed an appeal. He was committed, he said, to clearing her name of charges leveled against her by then-Governor Andrew Cuomo.
In a brutal attack, shared only with the New York Post, Cuomo surrogate Richard Azzopardi accused Rosenthal of sexual and racial misconduct.
The sexual misconduct charge was trivial. When a business executive asked for her trust, she replied, “The last time I trusted someone, I lost my virginity.” Countless management offices around New York would be vacant if such jokes were grounds for dismissal.
But it was the racial misconduct charge that sent sparks flying.
The tale of the tape…
A tape recording, which a state investigator claims caught her using the “N” word, was a crucial piece in the decision to fire Rosenthal without notice. Rosenthal denies it and demands that the state and RIOC prove it.
Rumors abound about what’s on the tape and if it still exists, but there is no question of Rosenthal’s role as a racial equality activist. That loaded Azzopardi’s comments in the Post with dynamite.
According to multiple sources, the tape in question was recorded by Shelton J. Haynes who soon replaced her. Haynes, it’s alleged, used the recording to undermine Rosenthal, playing it back for other employees.
That’s controversial because, if true, it means that Haynes violated state guidelines for reporting racial misconduct. Playing it for associates while never reporting it to the Government Office of Employee Relations (GOER) would make the violation even more flagrant.
Haynes, as far as we know, has not formally been accused of any violation nor has he been disciplined.
Rosenthal’s appeal in this lawsuit (INDEX NO. 154096/2021) says that she has …”not had a full opportunity to litigate the matter…” At the heart of the matter is discovery, a demand that the state put up or shut up.
Unfortunately, the appeal to clear her name of the charges of racial misconduct is, according to our legal expert, “weak.” She claims that she’s being discriminated against as a white woman.
“Frankly, the only evidence of discrimination that I saw her attorney present is that she was replaced by an African American,” our expert says. “It should be noted that 2/3 VPs at RIOC at that time were Black (and she hired/promoted them, as she notes herself). So it was only logical that her successor would be Black.”
A Cautionary Note On Rosenthal’s Appeal
One well-informed observer offered this evaluation after the case was dismissed.
“On a broader note, no matter how weak her case was, its dismissal is still disappointing. It will definitely serve to embolden Shelton & Co. into thinking that they can get away with their nefarious activities.
“It will also support Shelton’s narrative to Albany and the Board that all the claims against him are bogus and ultimately will get dismissed. As such, Susan’s loss is definitely a net negative to the general struggle to cleanse RIOC of corrupt leadership.”
If successful, Rosenthal’s appeal may shed some much-needed light on what really happened and the improper conduct that made it possible.