Philly NOW: Fire PPA Director Accused of Sexual Harassment
The Philadelphia chapter of the National Organization for Women is calling for Vince Fenerty to be removed as director of the Philadelphia Parking Authority after it recently came to light that he was fined for sexually harassing a subordinate.
The Inquirer reported earlier this week that Fenerty paid $30,000 to cover the cost of an investigation looking into claims that he harassed a senior employee at the PPA, who was not named in the story. The agency found that Fenerty had “engaged in a series of unwanted and repeatedly discouraged sexual advances” against the employee, according to the newspaper.
The PPA opted not to fire him because of his “many, many years of exemplary service,” according to the report. Instead, he was fined and his responsibilities were curtailed. He is no longer able to hire and fire workers or unilaterally give raises to senior employees. But he remains the director of the PPA.
“Mr. Fenerty is an embarrassment to the city and should step down effectively immediately from his position as executive director or, more appropriately, should have been fired,” Phily NOW president Natalie Catin said in a statement. “No amount of years of ‘exemplary service’ makes you exempt from accepting … the consequences of sexually harassing employees in the workplace.”
On Thursday, the Inquirer reported that City Councilman Al Taubenberger, who also serves on the PPA board, seemed to downplay the harassment allegations, calling the incident a “high-school puppy-love situation.” Taubenberger later said he regretted the choice of words and didn’t mean to imply that the incident wasn’t serious. He didn’t change his position that Fenerty should stay on as the PPA director, though.
“By allowing Mr. Fenerty to maintain his current role, it sends a message that certain individuals in positions of power are above reproach for reprehensible behavior and that sexual harassment of women in the workplace is not a grave enough infraction for dismissal,” NOW said in a press release.
The Daily News also called for Fenerty’s removal in an editorial on Friday.
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