NYS legislature strengthens workplace anti-sexual harassment measures

Jun 20, 2019

The Senate and Assembly approved anti-sexual harassment measures that, among other things, ends the standard that harassment needs to be “severe or pervasive” in order for a victim’s complaint to receive redress. Gov. Andrew Cuomo will sign the bill.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo met with Times's Up advocates at the state Capitol.
Credit Mike Groll / Governor's Office

The bill also ends a provision (known as the Faragher/Ellerth defense) where employers could avoid being liable for sexual harassment because an employee failed to file a complaint or did not follow a particular reporting procedure. That change protects workers who don’t make a complaint because they risk retaliation.

Senate Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, who is the first woman to lead the chamber, praised several younger, newly elected Senators for pushing to get the measures passed. 

“I apologize to everyone who has been subjected to the harassment, the abuse, the insensitivity, the ugliness of being marginalized,” Stewart-Cousins said. “And being thought it was perfectly ok to do whatever.”

Cuomo said in a statement that it “will make it easier for claims to be brought forward.” He says it will “send a strong message that when it comes to sexual harassment in the workplace, time is up.”