By Bill Parry
As boldfaced names are added to the list of sexual misconduct scandals almost daily, one Queens lawmaker is planning to introduce legislation early next year that would stop non-profit organizations from receiving city funds if they have been subject to multiple sexual harassment complaints. City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer’s (D-Sunnyside) proposal would require organizations to provide up-to-date documents and records related to sexual harassment complaints, how they were resolved, what disciplinary actions were taken with personnel involved in complaints, and what type of education and training is administered to ensure all staff understand rules and regulations as it pertains to harassment and a safe work environment.
“The #MeToo movement is about exposing systematic workplace sexual harassment and assault, but it’s up to lawmakers now to push forward solutions to address it,” Van Bramer said. “That’s why I’ve proposed legislation to put our money where our mouth is and require organizations seeking City subsidies to submit their records on sexual harassment complaints as a condition of funding.”
He added, “We need to back up the women and men who’ve been brave enough to come forward and make clear that we won’t support institutions that don’t take sexual harassment seriously.”
Meanwhile, the city held its first public hearing on sexual harassment in over 40 years. The event, organized by the City Commission on Human Rights was held last week at the CUNY School of Law in Long Island City and put together advocates and individuals working in hospitality, retail, domestic work, construction, media and entertainment, fashion and modeling. In addition to the four hour-long hearing the commission is accepting written testimony until Dec. 31. Key findings, policy recommendations and guidance will be compiled in a report to be released early next year.
“As we are experiencing a watershed moment in the women’s rights and social justice and civil rights movement, where women, men, and non-binary people are bravely coming forward to share their stories of sexual harassment across industries, the NYC Commission on Human Rights want to learn directly from New Yorkers on how the city can better address sexual harassment and how we can work together to dismantle the systems that allow harassers and those complicit with them accountable,” City Commission on Human Rights Chair and Commissioner Carmelyn Malalis said.
She pointed out that the city’s Human Rights Laws is on of the broadest and most protective in the country and the commission enforces it every day to make sure “New Yorkers have access to justice.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr