Assemblymember Hunter: State Budget Takes Important Steps to Combat Sexual Harassment

April 3, 2018

Assemblymember Pamela J. Hunter (D-Syracuse) announced that she helped pass the 2018-19 state budget, which includes meaningful measures to combat sexual harassment.

“Sexual harassment has absolutely no place in our society,” Hunter said. “For the brave women and men who are taking a stand and declaring ‘MeToo,’ and for those who have been unable to get justice, we’re listening to you. This deplorable behavior will not be tolerated.”

The state budget includes legislation to ensure that employers across the state have comprehensive policies to combat sexual harassment in the workplace. The measure directs the state Department of Labor and the Division of Human Rights to develop a model sexual harassment prevention policy, requires that all employers adopt that policy or establish one that exceeds it, and train their employees on an annual basis. It would include provisions to prohibit sexual harassment, provide information on state and federal law and relief available to victims, ensure timely and confidential investigations of complaints and clearly establish that retaliation is unlawful. Contractors, subcontractors, vendors and consultants are also protected against sexual harassment. Any entities participating in a state competitive bidding process will have to certify that they have a written policy to combat sexual harassment in the workplace and that employees have received sexual harassment prevention training when submitting a bid.

Moreover, the measure bars confidentiality clauses in any settlement except when specifically requested by the victim. It also allows a state or local government that has paid a victim for a sexual harassment claim on behalf of a public employee to recover payment from the employee responsible for the harassment. Further, it would ban mandatory arbitration agreements for claims of sexual harassment.

As a member of the Assembly Anti-Sexual Harassment Workgroup, Hunter has been instrumental in ensuring that victims are heard and protected.