An outgoing East Hampton Village Police commander allegedly harassed a civilian employee for years and retaliated against her for reporting the mistreatment, according to a complaint pending before a New York State Division of Human Rights administrative judge.
The agency issued a finding of probable cause that East Hampton Village Police Capt. Anthony Long harassed, discriminated and retaliated against Layla Bennett, a police secretary, since 2015. The allegations include Long making demeaning comments about Bennett’s looks, threatening to terminate Bennett for conduct others were not even reprimanded for, ruining projects in her office and laughing at her when she questioned what happened, removing furniture from her office without justification and berating her in front of other department members, according to her attorney Alex Kaminski of the Islandia-based law firm of Davis & Ferber, LLP.
“The difference in her treatment compared to others, primarily males, makes it apparent that Captain Long targeted her due to her gender and retaliated against her after she reported the mistreatment numerous times,” Bennett’s attorney said in a statement. “Ms. Bennett hopes to continue her career without issue now that her complaints are finally being addressed.”
Bennett complained to the village board—including two current members, Rosemary Brown and Arthur Graham—and Chief Michael Tracey, who assured her that the conduct would stop and discouraged her from making complaints outside of the department, her attorney said. Rebecca Hansen, a prior village administrator, tasked with investigating the allegations told Bennett the claims had no merit before the harassment continued, her attorney added.
“In light of the pending legal proceedings, I have no comment with respect to these particular allegations,” said East Hampton Village Mayor Jerry Larsen. “However, I wish to publicly reaffirm my commitment to providing each and every employee of the Village of East Hampton a workplace that is safe and free from any bias or discrimination.”
Bennett later filed a complaint with the state HRD shortly before Larsen, a former village police chief elected mayor last year, referred the case to the Suffolk County Police Department’s Internal Affairs Bureau, which referred questions about the probe back to the village. Long took a leave of absence on April 23 until he retires on December 31 after 28 years on the job.
Long could not be reached and the village police department did not respond to a request for comment. Bennett was not available for comment. A DHR administrative judge is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the complaint at a later date.