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New York government cracks down on sexual harassment

Following the national conversation and steps in the federal government, New York is starting 2018 with a crackdown on sexual harassment.

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced plans on January 2 to propose legislation that would block government officials from using taxpayer dollars to settle sexual harassment claims, ban confidentiality agreements related to cases of sexual harassment in state and local government, and standardize anti-harassment policies across agencies.

The governor's plan legislation would require any companies with state business to disclose the number of sexual harassment cases they had faced each year. It would also bar employers from forcing employees into private arbitration.

State legislators put forth their own bills

Governor Cuomo's proposal comes after Republican Senators Catharine Young and Elaine Phillips proposed bills that ban secret settlements and would codify the definition of sexual harassment in state law.

The bills would also expand harassment protections for independent contractors across all industries. Senator Young said this could ensure protections for up to 40 percent of New Yorkers - the percentage she said are those who work on a freelance or contract basis.

The Senate Democratic Conference of New York, led by Andrea Stewart-Cousins, also put forward its own bills, which would better outline state agencies' and supervisors' responsibilities to address harassment within their own departments and teams. One of those bills would expand protections for employees who work for small businesses.

These proposals and bills show a bipartisan desire to address sexual harassment in New York and better guarantee workplace equality. But even with expanded protections for workers, getting a lawyer if you experience sexual harassment is still a helpful tool.

An experienced employment law attorney can better equip you to hold your employer accountable. They can work with you to gather documentation before moving forward with a case to determine when is the right time to take action.

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