By Naeisha Rose
Mayor Bill de Blasio signed 11 bills last week to combat sexual harassment in the workplace in both the private and public sector with support from Queens’ delegates, other elected officials throughout the city and first lady Chirlane McCray.
One of the bills signed on May 9 was Intro 613-A, the first solo piece of legislation introduced by City Councilwoman Adrienne Adams (D-Jamaica). Intro 613-A requires all city agencies and the offices of the mayor, borough presidents, comptroller and public advocate to assess workplace risk factors associated with sexual harassment as identified by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Select Task Force on the harassment in the workplace, according to the mayor’s office.
The bill was created to help agencies better develop responsive strategies to tackle sexual harassment in the workplace.
“Every person, whether they work in government or private industry, should be able to do their jobs without fear of being sexually harassed,” Adams said. “We now know that sexual harassment in the workplace is so prevalent that we need to take active measures to stop it before it begins which is why I am joining my colleagues to bring attention to this important issue.”
Intro 693, another bill that was signed by the mayor, was sponsored by City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside).
Van Bramer’s bill stipulates that contractors and subcontractors that apply for city contracts include their employment practices, policies and procedures as they relate to preventing and addressing sexual harassment an employment report.
“This new law requires that organizations seeking to do business with or receive funding from the city provide details of their practices, policies and procedures as they relate to preventing and addressing sexual harassment,” Van Bramer said.
Among the bills, Intros 612-A and 632-A require anti-sexual harassment trainings for city agencies, the offices of the mayor, borough presidents, comptroller and public advocate, and asks that employers with 15 or more employees conduct annual anti-sexual harassment training for all employees, according to the mayor’s office.
Intros 664-A and 653-A are requesting reports from city agencies and the offices of the top city officials after they conduct office surveys to assess general awareness and knowledge of the city’s EEO and harassment policies, in addition to accounts of workplace sexual harassment to the Department of Citywide Administrative Services.
Intros 657-A, 660-A and 663-A expand sexual harassment protections under the New York City Human Rights Law by applying provisions related to gender-based discrimination to all employers, regardless of the number of employees, by including sexual harassment as a form of discrimination that can be eliminated and prevented, and by increasing the statue of limitations for filing harassment claims based on unwelcome conduct from one to three years from when the alleged harassment occurred.
The remaining two bills were Intros 614-A and 630-A, which ensure New Yorkers know their rights by making sure employers and the city’s Commission on Human Rights post their resources on sexual harassment on their websites and explain that sexual harassment is unlawful.
“When women step forward with a grievance, it is the employer’s responsibility to listen and take appropriate action,” said McCray. “With this new package of bills, New York City is holding all employers accountable for what they do when employees come forward to report sexual harassment in the workplace.”
Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose