Department of Labor takes next step to improve sexual harassment prevention policy for NY

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ALBANY, NY (WENY) – Thursday in a community room full of women ready to share their experiences and thoughts, the Department of Labor took a step to improve New York’s sexual harassment prevention model policy for employers.

The Department of Labor heard testimonies this morning from a variety of presenters from law centers to legal non-profits, and workplace industries.

“Sexual harassment is everywhere in all workplaces across all industries, and it is major problem,” said Da Hae Kim, State Policy Senior Counsel for the National Women’s Law Center.

According to presenters, the most important issues to address is a lack of compliance from employers and outreach. Additionally, many issues appear to be industry specific. Presenters said that some industries are more vulnerable to sexual harassment and need more assistance and industry specific policy guidelines.

For restaurants, workers have to deal not only with employers and other employees, but customers. For domestic workers, household employers often do not understand that they have a legal obligation to comply with the sexual harassment prevention model and finding support with a human rights agency can be very challenging for workers.

Leydis Munoz, NY organizer for the National Domestic Workers Alliance, said domestic workers like herself often feel isolated and don’t know where to go for help.

“When I was working as a nanny,” Munoz said. “The male employer asked me to take a shower so that he could see me. This kind of sexual advances and inappropriate touching is commonplace.”

Gov. Kathy Hochul and Department of Labor Commissioner, Roberta Reardon have helped the state of New York make progress but many of the speakers today testified that there is more work to be done, especially for more vulnerable industries.

Seher Khawaja, Senior Attorney for Economic Empowerment at Legal Momentum said that it is crucial to develop strategies and guidance for groups of workers to navigate the additional barriers they face in reporting and addressing sexual harassment.


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