On Tuesday, Governor Andrew Cuomo unveiled the 18th proposal of the 2018 State of the State: a multi-pronged agenda that targets sexual harassment in the workplace. Governor Cuomo will propose legislation to prevent public dollars from being used to settle sexual harassment claims against individuals, void forced arbitration policies in employee contracts, and mandate that any companies that do business with the state disclose the number of sexual harassment adjudications and nondisclosure agreements they have executed.
“2017 brought a long overdue reckoning where the secret and pervasive poison of workplace sexual harassment was exposed by brave women and men who said this ends now,” Governor Cuomo said. “Our challenge in government is to turn society’s revulsion into reform, and we in New York must seize the moment and lead the way. There must be zero tolerance for sexual harassment in any workplace, and we can and will end the secrecy and coercive practices that have enabled harassment for far too long.”
Governor Cuomo will advance legislation to prevent taxpayer funds from being used for settlements against individuals relating to sexual assault and harassment and to ensure that individual harassers are held accountable.
To further ensure accountability, the Governor proposes a uniform code of sexual harassment policies binding on all branches of state and local government and an independent and anonymous whistleblower process to help individuals to communicate complaints across state and local government without fear of retribution or consequence.
To help bring justice to victims of sexual harassment, Governor Cuomo also proposes legislation that would void forced arbitration policies or clauses in employee contracts that prevent sexual harassment cases from consideration in law enforcement investigation and court trials.
To combat the culture of silence that too often shields abusers from accountability, Governor Cuomo will take a series of actions to promote transparency while simultaneously protecting survivors’ identity and privacy.
Governor Cuomo will propose legislation to prohibit confidentiality agreements relating to sexual assault or harassment for all public entities and branches of government — state and local — unless it is the express preference of the victim. In addition, Governor Cuomo proposes mandatory annual reporting for any companies that do business with the State that will require disclosure of the number of sexual harassment violations and nondisclosure agreements executed by that company.
These measures will ensure that all employees are provided with a safer work environment, to which they all should be entitled.