NY Sex Harassment Laws May Get Updated Under New Gov.
Carol Goodman, co-chair of Herrick's Litigation Department and chair of the firm's Employment Practice, spoke to Law360 about sexual harassment laws under New York Governor Kathy Hochul.
Carol stated that, out of the batch of laws related to sexual harassment that New York lawmakers passed in 2018 and 2019, she believes the requirement that employees be trained as to what the state's laws say and what internal processes exist in an organization are paramount in terms of the impact they've had. She explained, "The reason is because the key to the training is to make it clear that everybody shares responsibility in this."
She noted that the state's sexual harassment rules also apply to third parties in the workplace, like contractors, vendors and other nonemployees, which means that training is important because "you're making employees aware that they cannot harass third parties and similarly third parties can't harass them." She added, "If you don't have a mechanism of letting employees know what the rules are, and also what to do if they're harassed, you can't possibly get rid of workplace harassment."
The article explained that, in Cuomo's case, investigators in a section of the report that led to his resignation concluded that the governor's office had adequate policies and procedures in place for handling sexual harassment allegations, but failed to follow them when responding to the claims levied against Cuomo. "We find that the problem did not rest with the executive chamber's written policies, which were robust and consistent with the requirements of New York State law, but in the executive chamber's failure to follow them," said one section of the Aug. 3 report.
Carol said that section of the report and the conclusion investigators reached highlight the importance of proper training and added that she believes Hochul "is going to spend a lot of time and focus on making sure that these policies and these laws are understood and followed."
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