A supervisor for the NYC Parks Department has allegedly been sexually harassing his reports with impunity, and advancing within the department despite a documented history of workplace misconduct. According to the NY Post, 53-year-old Michael Palamar received promotions even after an on-the-job sex abuse conviction. Now, he faces a fresh round of allegations from a former Parks Department seasonal employee named Pilar Taylor, who says Palamar targeted her for years before he eventually enabled her termination.
According to a lawsuit (below) Taylor filed on July 11th, she started work with the Parks Department in June 2015 as a city parks cleaner. She claims she soon heard rumors about managers engaging in sexual activity with junior employees—and specifically about Palamar allegedly paying the Job Training Program (JTP) employees for sex. In September of that year, Taylor says she walked in on a JTP employee performing oral sex Palamar, and when she told her manager about the incident, was informed that Palamar had been involved with several women—the youngest of whom was 19. After that, Taylor says Palamar began making suggestive comments to her; when she protested, he allegedly told her "JTP" stood for "Just Temporary Pussy" and insinuated that sexual favors were part of the position.
In Spring 2016, Taylor became a seasonal City Park Worker (CPW): She says that when she asked about the orientation process, Palamar responded by grabbing her left thigh and telling her, "Now you are seasonal pussy." When she reported Palamar's behavior to her union representative, Taylor says he told her that too many complaints could cost her the job.
According to the lawsuit, Palamar continued to harass her, responding to a subsequent request for training by telling her he might do it if she "wrap[ped] those soup coolers"—by which he apparently meant her lips—"around [his] dick." And when she asked him about applying for a permanent position with the Parks Department, Palamar allegedly told her that "closed legs don't get fed."
On one occasion, Taylor says Palamar grabbed one of her nipples, and made disparaging remarks about her race (Taylor is Black, Palamar is white), before trying to fire her in September 2016. He didn't succeed, but Taylor says he did continue his running commentary on her figure. After the 2016 presidential election, his racist remarks reportedly became more vitriolic, with Palamar allegedly telling Taylor, "Y'all should be worried about hanging from trees soon," according to the lawsuit.
Palamar reportedly threatened Taylor when she complained about his behavior, leaving a copy of this 2013 NY Post article detailing his previous harassment conviction in her locker, along with a note that allegedly read, "Back off you Black Bitch!! You should've kept your mouth shut!" He also allegedly told Taylor, “no one will believe a black girl from The Bronx..."
Ultimately, in August 2017, Taylor says she lost her job because Palamar failed to submit documentation of sick leave she'd taken months before. She's suing New York City, the Parks Department, and Palamar for sexual harassment, discrimination, and retaliation on the basis of her gender and race.
As mentioned, Palamar has previously been convicted of behavior that sounds eerily similar to what Taylor describes: In 2009, he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor sex abuse after grabbing a woman's butt on the job. On top of that, Palamar previously served 16 years in prison after killing his neighbor with a baseball bat and pleading guilty to manslaughter. But since his sexual abuse conviction, the Post reports, the Parks Department promoted Palamar to a position that pays him over $100,000. If Taylor's allegations are to be believed, the Parks Department did this with full knowledge of the way he treated women who worked for him.
"NYC Parks does not tolerate sexual harassment," a Parks Department representative said in a statement emailed to Gothamist. "We thoroughly investigate all complaints, and actively encourage all employees to come forward/report."
"The allegations against this employee are being investigated," the statement continued, "and if they are true, the Parks Department will move to fire him."