Metro

Hochul signs sex harassment laws, takes dig at Andrew Cuomo

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Gov. Kathy Hochul signed three bills into law Wednesday to better address sexual harassment in the workplace and took a dig at predecessor Andrew Cuomo, saying she “cleaned house” after succeeding him.

“I’m proud to sign bills that will address sexual harassment in the workplace and say that once and for all, my administration has cleaned house. This is a new day in New York,” Hochul said during a bill signing ceremony at the Javits Center as part of Women’s History Month.

“We created a human resources department, a real one, so actual real complaints can be heard by real people, who will take action. We actually have an outside law firm available for people to complain to, so there’s no sense that anybody within my administration can cover up or sweep something under the rug. No longer will women have to live in fear in any workplace, particularly in our administration.”

One of the bills she approved makes it a violation of the state Human Rights Law to release personnel records as a way of retaliating or discounting the claims of victims of workplace discrimination. The measure was proposed by Sen. Andrew Gounardes (D-Brooklyn) and Assemblywoman Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas (D-Queens).

Gov. Kathy Hochul signed the legislation focusing on sexual harrassment issues as part of a Women's History Month celebration at the Javits Center.
Gov. Kathy Hochul signed the legislation focusing on sexual harrassment issues as part of a Women’s History Month celebration at the Javits Center.
Kevin P. Coughlin / Office of Governor Kathy Hochul
Then New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo
Former Gov. Andrew Cuomo has made several public appearances while mulling a political comeback.
AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File

Cuomo, the former three-term governor, resigned under threat of impeachment last summer after 11 women accused him of harassment or misconduct. A devastating report by state Attorney General Letitia James’ office substantiated the claims.

Cuomo’s office had leaked the confidential personnel records of former staffer Lindsey Boylan in a bid to discredit her after she accused the ex-governor of sexually harassing her. The bill would forbid such release of employment records of an alleged victim.

The new law also provides additional recourse to victims of unlawful retaliation by allowing them to file a complaint with the attorney general, who may file a suit in state Supreme Court.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul
Gov. Kathy Hochul vowed women won’t “live in fear in any workplace” after signing three laws targeting sexual harrassment issues.
Lev Radin/Pacific Press/Shutterstock
Southern Brooklyn State Senator Andrew Gounardes.
State Sen. Andrew Gounardes introduced a measure that would’ve prevented former Gov. Andrew Cuomo from leaking personnel records.
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Another bill Hochul approved codifies that all state government employers — executive, legislature and judiciary — are subject to the Human Rights Law. The bill was introduced by Gounardes and Assemblywoman Yuh Line-Niou (D-Manhattan).

State officials will not be able to avoid responsibility for harassment of public employees and ensure that New York’s sweeping anti-harassment regulations protect both public and private employees, Hochul said.

A third measure, sponsored by Sen. Alessandra Biaggi (D-Bronx) and Assemblywoman Line-Nio requires the state Division of Human Rights to establish a toll free confidential hotline for complaints of workplace sexual harassment.

Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou speaking.
Assemblywoman Yuh Line-Niou advocated for all state government workers to be subjected to the Human Rights Law.
Robert Miller

The hotline will connect them with pro-bono attorneys for legal advice.

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