Most Far Reaching Sexual Harassment Act In U.S. Now Law From Harlem To Hollywood

Mayor de Blasio signed the City Council’s groundbreaking and far reaching sexual harassment bill package into law today, responding to the #MeToo movement and calls across the country for an end to workplace abuse.

The “Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act,” championed by Speaker Corey Johnson and Committee on Women Chair Helen Rosenthal, seeks to address harassment both within the City’s municipal workforce and in the private sector.

Its fundamental objective is to ensure that public and private sector employees know their rights and the resources at their disposal — essential to creating the safe and respectful work environment to which all New Yorkers are entitled.

Sexual harassment will now be an issue that will be addressed for anyone who works in New York City, representing a fundamental cultural shift. The Act expands protections to every worker in New York City and requires more robust training and education in every workplace. City employees in particular will have new, safe ways to speak out about harassment and abuse, and there will be far more public accountability regarding harassment in City agencies and departments.

Read more about all 11 bills here and here.

Council Member Rosenthal made the following statement:

“If there’s anything we’ve learned over the past days and months — it’s that we must ensure that all survivors of gender-based violence can come forward with the understanding that the system has their back. That the survivor will be believed, that the attacker will be investigated, and a just outcome will be reached. This requires a cultural sea change.

This sweeping legislative package represents the beginning of a real shift toward a culture of respect and accountability. The protections in the Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act go further than any other laws in the country. Taken together, these bills represent a commitment to ensuring that every New Yorker works in an environment where they can succeed.

But let’s be real. As critical as this legislation is, as proud as I am to be here today, patriarchy, misogyny, and sexism are so interwoven into our society that no piece of legislation alone can fully address this historic, systemic problem. And several high-profile resignations, or investigative reports on individual cases of harassment and abuse, aren’t enough, either.

We owe it to the brave survivors who come forward, to be honest as we implement these bills. Now the hard work begins. It’s on us to prove to victims and survivors that we aren’t just checking a box. To prove that the city does have their back.

I want to thank Speaker Johnson for his extraordinary leadership and partnership in making this Act a reality. He made this a top priority at the very start of his term as Speaker, and it’s why we’re here today.

My colleagues and I are just getting started. We will continue to search for ways to interrupt abuses of power, end sexual harassment, and make gender-based discrimination a thing of the past.”

Key Provisions of the New Laws

  • Every employee (regardless of where they work or how small their workplace) is now covered by the sexual harassment provisions of the city’s human rights law.
    Employees can now report sexual harassment up to THREE YEARS after the incident happens.
  • Every workplace, whether it is a city agency or private company, will have to provide training on what constitutes sexual harassment, and what to do if you have experienced or witnessed it.
  • All private-sector employers will be required to post a sexual harassment policy within their workplaces, and businesses with 15 or more employees must conduct regular sexual harassment trainings for all employees. This is a first in the U.S. to the best of our knowledge.
  • The Act also mandates public accountability regarding harassment in City agencies and departments in a way not seen before.

As the largest employer in New York (with over 330,000 workers), City of New York agencies and departments will be required annually to:

  • provide robust trainings
  • report on the number of complaints filed
  • survey employees about their sense of the impact of annual sexual harassment trainings, and describe steps they will take to eliminate sexual harassment
  • conduct “risk assessments” to find issues in the workplace that may contribute to an environment where sexual harassment occurs.

Council Member Rosenthal and her colleagues will keep exploring best practices that prevent workplace abuse, as well as policy approaches that encourage individuals to report instances of harassment, and protect them when they do. This includes looking at targeted approaches that may be needed for specific industries and for the LGBTQ community. The Council Members also continue to examine sexual harassment within City of New York agencies and departments.

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