ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – With the string of sexual harassment cases showing no signs of slowing down, what’s the policy to hold New York lawmakers accountable?
“70 percent of victims of sexual harassment in the workplace do not report it,” Donna Young, Albany Law School Professor, said.
Young says that’s because many victims fear retaliation or the stigma attached. In the last 15 years, at least nine sexual misconduct complaints have been made in the Assembly.
“Sexual harassment law is based on the 1964 Civil Rights Act but it doesn’t define anywhere in the Act what sexual harassment is so courts have been left with the responsibility of defining that.
When it comes to defining sexual harassment at the Capitol, the policies are different for the Senate and the Assembly.
Both in the Assembly and Senate, members must complete an interactive two-hour sexual harassment awareness training every two years.
However, when it comes to investigations the Chambers differ.
In the Assembly, cases can sometimes be investigated by outside legal counsel, taking authority away from the speaker.
In Senate, the Secretary of the Senate will designate someone to handle the investigation.
The Assembly’s policy is 13 pages long, detailing what harassment looks like, reporting methods and the investigation process. The Senate’s policy is only three pages with fewer details on what is considered sexual harassment.
These differences, although slight, is the reason Assemblywoman Sandy Galef is calling on Governor Andrew Cuomo on Thursday to create a universal policy that will apply to all government employees.