Tolbert Facing Heat on Sexual Harassment Suits

July 24, 2013 Updated Jul 24, 2013 at 10:17 PM EDT

By Kendra Eaglin

July 24, 2013 Updated Jul 24, 2013 at 10:17 PM EDT

Buffalo, NY

Lawsuits filed by former employees who worked with Bernie Tolbert when he was the Senior Vice President of Security for the NBA are now coming back to haunt him during his current campaign for mayor of the City of Buffalo on the democratic line.

Wednesday, Buffalo Common Council Member Bonnie Russell held a news conference in Niagara Square calling on all women, especially women in leadership roles, to join her in protecting the rights of women when they vote in November.

While she did say she is a supporter of Mayor Byron Brown and has contributed to his campaign in the past, she maintained her motives for speaking out were not political but rather to protect women's rights.

Tolbert is facing lawsuits from former employees at the NBA who claim he ignored their sexual harassment complaints.

According to a Buffalo News article, Tolbert was accused of saying that women were only needed in two rooms in the house, the kitchen and the bedroom.

"I should not be holding public office myself if I do not let people know, women know, there is a recourse for you. There are sexual harassment laws for you. There are ways where you do not have to feel like the victim." said Russell.

"These allegations of sexual harassment and discrimination of women raised by the Buffalo News are very troubling, and I think Mr. Tolbert needs to explain to the public what his role in these issues are," Mayor Byron Brown (D) stated.

Eyewitness News reached out Mr. Tolbert for comment, but did not hear back at the time this article was released.