Council Passes Sexual Harassment Legislative Package

Recently, the New York City Council passed the ‘Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC’ Act, a package of eleven pieces of legislation aimed at combating sexual harassment on a number of fronts. The largest legislative push by the Council of this session so far, bills were sponsored by a number of Council Members, including one of which Council Member Jumaane D. Williams (D-Brooklyn) was the co-prime sponsor.

Council Member Williams was the co-prime sponsor of Intro 653-A, a bill that would mandate annual reporting on workplace sexual harassment incidents within city agencies. The administering agency would be the Department of Citywide Administrative Services. A report is due to the mayor, council, commission on human rights and the commission would be required to post it to its website. Council Member Mark Levine (D-Manhattan) was the lead sponsor of this legislation. The bill was unanimously approved by the Council.

Other bills in the legislative package included one which mandates sexual harassment training for all city agency employees, one which requires city agencies to conduct anonymous climate surveys and develop and implement action plans to prevent sexual harassment. and requiring city agencies to conduct risk assessment related to sexual harassment. The package will also require city contractors to disclose their policies and procedures on sexual harassment, better facilitate harassment complaint reporting, and requiring employers to conduct trainings and post written policies on sexual harassment.

This major legislative effort comes as the nation has begun to more meaningfully address the prevalence of workplace sexual harassment across job industries. Groundbreaking movements led by women such as #TimesUp and #MeToo have highlighted the rampant gender based harassment and violence women face around the world. In passing these pieces of landmark legislation, the New York City Council hoped to take the lead on correcting issues which have existed in the shadows for far too long.

“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,” said Council Member Jumaane D. Williams. “Council Member Levine’s bill, of which I am a proud co-prime sponsor, will help shine light on the scope of this problem by requiring reporting of sexual harassment complaint made in city agencies. We cannot solve the problem if we cannot see it for the urgent danger that it is. I want to thank Chair Rosenthal, Council Member Levine, Speaker Johnson, and all who have worked to make this issue the priority that it needs to be.”

“This legislation is an incredible first step toward ending sexual harassment in New York City,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal, Chair of the Committee on Women on the legislative package. “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. I want to thank Speaker Johnson for his extraordinary leadership and partnership in making the Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act reality.”

“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. With the passage of Introduction 653-A, we in the Council say that city government is not immune to sexual harassment and are committed to holding agencies accountable. I thank Council Members Jumaane Williams and Mark Levine, the bill’s sponsors, for their leadership on protecting city employees,” said Speaker Corey Johnson.”

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