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NOW rally to support Hayden's ex-secretary


The Baltimore chapter of the National Organization for Women has scheduled a "Hayden's No Sweetheart" rally in Towson to support the Baltimore County executive's former secretary, who has accused him of sexual harassment.

Niculina V. "Nicky" Robinson, the secretary who claimed last week that Roger B. Hayden sexually harassed her, said she will join the demonstration in front of the county office building at noon Tuesday,

Deborah Davis, a vice president of NOW, said her group is not rushing to judgment on Mrs. Robinson's accusation but believes that women who have the courage to come forward with sexual harassment complaints need support and encouragement.

"It's been a very difficult issue for us," Ms. Davis said.

While judicial and administrative bodies pass judgment on individual accusations, NOW wants other women who may have long held grievances to know that they will get support if they come forward, she said.

"Keep your chocolates and flowers," Ms. Davis said. "Give us a safe working environment."

Mrs. Robinson charged last week that Mr. Hayden made sexual advances in his locked office in September 1992 and then made her life miserable at work for five months because she rejected him. She left her job to go on sick leave Feb. 11, 1993, after Mr. Hayden told her he had just laid off her husband, Tom, along with 391 other county workers. She said she considered the firing an act of retribution.

After using all her sick leave and vacation time, Mrs. Robinson took a leave of absence and finally resigned her $34,000-a-year job in August 1993. She announced last week that she had filed a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in September 1993.

Mr. Hayden has denied her accusation, arguing that Mrs. Robinson is seeking revenge for her husband's firing and implying that she is in league with his political adversaries. Mr. Hayden, who is seeking a second term in this election year, has refused to speak about the case beyond a prepared statement.

Ann Dandridge, Mr. Hayden's spokeswoman, said yesterday that reaction to the charges has been minimal so far. "We've had two calls -- both supportive of Roger," she said, noting that none of the callers to the executive's radio talk show Tuesday mentioned the subject.

"It's like a one-day wonder," she said of the charges.

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