A bill that would expand the anti-sexual harassment protection for government workers in New York recently passed the state Senate. If it becomes law, the bill would close a key loophole in the existing statute to protect those employees who work most closely with lawmakers.
Specifically, the bill would expand existing harassment protections to include the “of the governor, judges, and legislators. Currently, workers considered to be “personal staff” do not have the same level of protection as other executive, legislative, and judicial employees. The bill’s sponsor, Senator Andrew Gounardes, calls the loophole a “glaring exception.” As our New York readers know, this bill comes as Governor Andrew Cuomo is under investigation for alleged sexual harassment of staff members.
Other anti-harassment in government legislation
Gounardes sponsored a related bill that the Senate also passed. This bill would affect the language in settlement agreements with government workers who sue for sexual harassment. Currently, such agreements often prohibit the worker from ever working in the same government entity again. Gounardes’ second bill would prohibit such clauses. A third bill would double the statute of limitations on filing a sexual harassment claim from three to six years.
You can take action against sexual harassment
One reason sexual harassment continues to be a problem is that many workers who experience it feel that there is nothing they can do about it. They may work in a place that does not encourage reporting harassment to management — or maybe it is a member of management who is doing the harassment. Employees may feel powerless in such situations, but in New York, employees are not powerless. Employees have the right to pursue compensation in court and help stop this misconduct from happening to them or any other employee again.