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Cuomo staffers ‘were told “you gotta wear heels when he’s around”‘ and some claim he fired people in anger on the spot

NEW York Governor Andrew Cuomo's staffers were reportedly told to "wear heels when he's around" – and some claim he would fire people on the spot in anger.

The new allegations of a toxic work environment follow claims of sexual harassment by two former staffers and one woman who said she met Cuomo at a wedding.

A woman, identified only as Sarah, told Gothamist that when she worked in the governor's office in 2013, senior staffers placed her very close to Cuomo's desk immediately because he "likes blondes."

Senior staffers allegedly told Sarah: "You gotta wear heels when [Cuomo] is in Albany, sweetie ... that's the rule."

Sarah told the outlet that she started wearing stilettos and tried to stay on Cuomo's good side because that was the only way to "survive" in the governor's office.

"I knew by looking cute, and not being obstinate or opinionated, and doing what I was told and looking polished ... That is the only way I would survive there," she said.

The claims come just days after two former Cuomo staffers, Charlotte Bennett and Lindsey Boylan, accused the governor of inappropriate sexual behavior while they worked for him.

Bennett claimed that Cuomo asked her about her sex life and whether she slept with older men.

Boylan alleges that Cuomo once kissed her without consent and suggested they play strip poker while riding in his state-owned jet on another occassion.

A third accuser, Anna Ruch, told The New York Times earlier this week that she met Cuomo at a wedding in 2019, and he grabbed her cheeks and asked to kiss her.

The moment, and Ruch's clear discomfort, was captured in a photo.

Gothamist also spoke to several other ex-Cuomo staffers, speaking on the condition of anonymity, who described a work place culture that revolved around bullying and walking on egg shells around the governor.

Staffers were expected to be available for events or meetings at all hours of the day, and Cuomo would lash out over small mistakes, according to the accounts.

One staffer described being forced to leave a vacation early to handle a work issue.

"They flew me back from vacation once because they needed something done," the staffer said. "You had go-bags. You literally had to be ready to go at a drop of a hat."

The governor's New York City office was reportedly run by several high-level female staffers – including Melissa DeRosa, the secretary to the governor, and Stephanie Benton, his executive secretary – who were referred to as the "mean girls."

DeRosa, however, denied the office is a toxic environment, telling Gothamist it's a place where female staffers can "rise to the highest levels in terms of commissioners and senior staff members."

Another staffer spoke about an event in Buffalo in 2017 where Cuomo allegedly exploded on a young staffer for allowing him to walk out on a stage before being formerly introduced. The staffer said Cuomo fired the man on the spot.

"Cuomo fired a lot of people and we just didn't put them in front of him," the woman said. "This guy continued to [work] but we would hide him at events."

Another staffer described working closely with Cuomo like "walking on eggshells."

Cuomo addressed the sexual harassment allegations for the first time on Wednesday, and claimed that he never meant to make anyone feel uncomfortable – and that he feels "awful and embarrassed."

"I now understand that I acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable," Cuomo said.

"It was unintentional and I truly and deeply apologize for it. I feel awful about it and frankly I am embarrassed by it," he added.

The governor appeared to get choked up while he was discussing the allegations.

He asked that New Yorkers wait until the results of the attorney general's probe into the allegations, which his office approved last week, before "forming an opinion."

"I have learned an important lesson. I'm sorry, I'm sorry for whatever pain I caused anyone, I never intended it and I will be the better for this experience."

Cuomo also confirmed that he will not resign from his position over the allegations.

"I'm not going to resign. I was elected by the people of New York," he confirmed. "I am going to serve the people of New York."

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