New York City Council has made its largest ever legislative push to combat sexual harassment in the workplace. Council Speaker Corey Johnson stated: “the Council is proud to take the lead on correcting issues which have existed in the shadows for far too long”.
“All New Yorkers are entitled to a safe, respectful workplace, and this package of legislation sends a strong message to public and private employers that there is no place for sexual harassment in our City”, he continued.
The ‘Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act’ consists of a package of eleven pieces of legislation including various bills addressing training, assessing and reporting sexual harrassment within city agencies and their contractors.
One component requires city contractors to disclose their policies and procedures on sexual harassment, to better facilitate harassment complaint reporting and to provide training and written policies on sexual harassment.
Council Member and bill sponsor Jumaane D Williams explained: “One of the factors that permits sexual harassment to fester and poison the workplace is because it is allowed to remain hidden in plain sight…[this bill] will help shine light on the scope of this problem by requiring reporting of sexual harassment complaints made in city agencies. We cannot solve the problem if we cannot see it for the urgent danger that it is”.
Chair of the City Council’s Committee on Women Helen Rosenthal insisted “We are expanding protections and making sure that employees know their rights. Every workplace, whether it is a city agency or private company, will now have to provide training on what constitutes sexual harassment, and what to do if you have experienced or witnessed it”.
This major legislative effort comes as a wave of anti-sexual harrassment, women-led, movements sweep the country coining the social media hashtags #TimesUp and #MeToo
“Across the country, an epidemic of sexual harassment plagues every corner of every industry from LA to DC,” said Council Member Mark Levine, “as a city, we have an obligation to enact policies that would help to protect employees both in and out of Government, the commitment by the Council, under the leadership of Speaker Johnson and my colleagues Council Members Rosenthal and Williams, to reevaluate and improve our sexual harassment policies will guarantee victims the protection and attention they deserve”.