Rozic: State Budget Delivers Groundwork for Sexual Harassment Prevention Policies

April 2, 2018

Albany, New York – Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D,WF-Fresh Meadows) announced that the State Legislature has reached an agreement on a series of policy changes protecting workers against sexual harassment as part of the 2018-19 State Budget. Rozic, who chairs the Assembly’s Task Force on Women’s Issues, serves as a member of the workgroup on sexual harassment convened earlier this year by Speaker Carl Heastie.

“From the start of session it was made clear that this year’s budget would not only address our most pressing fiscal challenges, but also effective measures to combat sexual harassment in the workplace. I am proud of the efforts led by the Assembly’s Majority working with colleagues and the Executive to ensure that this is the first step toward ending the culture of sexual harassment that has been ingrained in so many industries.”

Assembly-led efforts include Speaker Heastie’s convening of a workgroup on sexual harassment to which Rozic was appointed to along with 14 of her Assembly colleagues – 10 of which are women. For the past few months, the workgroup reviewed policy proposals including non-disclosure agreements, sexual harassment prevention training initiatives, and settlement payouts that would cover both private and public employees.

The final agreement reached by lawmakers includes language that would direct the New York State Division of Human Rights to create and publish a model guidance policy on the prevention of sexual harassment. Such policy would be required to be distributed to employees and include but not be limited to examples of prohibited conduct that would be considered unlawful sexual harassment, a procedure outlining the timely and confidential investigation of complaints, and information on all available paths of recourse for those coming forward with complaints of sexual harassment.

As part of efforts to protect those who fall outside of the definition of “employee,” the state budget includes provisions that would make it an unlawful discriminatory practice for an employer to permit the sexual harassment of “non-employees” in its workplace. “Non-employee” includes anyone who is an independent contractor, subcontractor, vendor, or consultant.

Rozic added, “Women should know that their bravery in coming forward and breaking their silence is part of why the state finally took action. While the state budget includes overdue legislation to prevent sexual harassment in various workplaces, the next step is ensuring that these measures are enforced and that we continue to meet with advocates and discuss the next steps to further strengthen New York’s sexual harassment policies.”

To best inform New Yorkers across the state on the provisions contained in the enacted budget, Rozic, as Chair of the Task Force on Women’s Issues, will host a series of discussions. Each will build on Rozic’s efforts that began with her introducing legislation that would establish the “Models Harassment Protection Act,” prohibit employers from utilizing non-disclosure agreements to conceal incidents of sexual harassment, create sexual harassment prevention training protocols within the private sector, as well as legislation that would establish a joint commission on public transparency and sexual harassment.