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New York State lawmakers hear testimony on sexual harassment

| Feb 21, 2019 | Employment Law for Employers |

There is obviously no place for sexual harassment and other violations of employment law in New York State. With the “me too” movement having become so well-known across the nation, it is no surprise that a greater number of people who have been subjected to violations of employee handbooks, the law and propriety have come forward. While employees who are mistreated with these and other illegal behaviors have the right to seek compensation, it is imperative for employers to remember that they must understand their right to craft a defense against allegations as they might be unfounded or fabricated. Keeping track of how sexual harassment might be addressed in the future is part of lodging that defense with help from an experienced law firm.

A hearing before state lawmakers included people giving testimony as to how they were harassed when working in the Capitol. One stated she was subjected to comments about her clothes and her body and was asked to touch her boss while working. This was the first time in more than 20 years that sexual harassment victims were heard by lawmakers in Upstate New York. This is even after laws were put in place to reduce its frequency. The Legislature is considering how to take a stronger hand in sexual harassment cases.

In the past, decisions were made either without hearing from victims or there were accusations of the decision makers in the Capitol that they did not do anything when they were informed of sexual harassment in their midst. Settlements were paid to some who claimed to have been sexually harassed. The hearing was held after democrats won control of the New York State legislature. New laws to address sexual harassment were passed in 2018. Employers cannot have clauses in a worker’s contract saying that he or she cannot file a lawsuit because of sexual harassment and nondisclosure agreements can only be utilized if the victim asks for it.

These changes are notable in that employees are granted greater protections if they are subjected to sexual harassment. With that, however, comes an increased risk to employers that they might be confronted with frivolous lawsuits either by lack of awareness as to the requirements of the new laws or by people who are taking advantage of the changes. For employers concerned about these issues and how it will impact their business, having legal advice is a must with help from attorneys who specialize in employment law for employers.