New York City May Require Businesses to Conduct Sexual Harassment Training

Private employers would also be required to display a poster with practical examples of sexual harassment, as well as a way to contact city, state or federal authorities with complaints.

“It will send a message quickly to New York City employees that we take it seriously,” said Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal of Manhattan, the chairwoman of the committee on women.

For the Council, and for Mr. Johnson, centering its first legislative effort of the new term around a critical issue for many New York City women is a tacit acknowledgment of the diminishing number of women represented in Democratic-dominated body, and a way for members to show that such issues will remain front-and-center.

Last week, the Council reprimanded a member, Andy King of the Bronx, for inappropriate contact with a staff member and ordered him to undergo ethics and sensitivity training.

“We’ve seen with the #MeToo movement and the Time’s Up movement that there has been a dark, secretive, dangerous current and epidemic of sexual harassment,” Mr. Johnson said on Friday. “This is a way to address that and hopefully be on the leading edge of trying to do something legislatively that’s going to protect more people.”

The measures, which are set for a Wednesday hearing before the committee on women, must still be voted on, and are subject to approval by Mayor Bill de Blasio. “We’re collaborating with them on this,” Mr. Johnson said of the mayor’s office.

“The mayor is supportive of the concepts and aim and we look forward to working with the council on the details,” Eric F. Phillips, the mayor’s press secretary said in a statement. He said the mayor was working on his own proposals.

Likely to be the most contentious aspect of the legislation is the requirement that private employers provide training. More than 30,000 businesses in the city could be affected by the regulation.

The bill specifies that the training be “interactive,” either in person, with audiovisual material or some other form approved by the city’s Human Rights Commission; it also requires that employers maintain records of compliance. Enforcement would be handled by the commission as well, and businesses could face penalties up to $500 for their first violation, and up to $2,000 for each one after.

Mr. Johnson said he did not expect the legislation would burden employers, but said he looked forward to hearing their concerns next week.

Some in the business community expressed skepticism.

“Thanks to the #MeToo movement, any employer who is not asleep understands the importance of strong policies on sexual harassment and relevant training,” said Kathryn Wylde, the president of the Partnership for New York City, a business group, who was briefed on the bills. “What more city laws are going to accomplish, aside from legal and compliance headaches, is unclear.”

Carol Robles-Román, the president of Legal Momentum and a former deputy mayor for legal affairs under Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, likened the proposals — especially the surveys aimed at unearthing what would otherwise be unreported issues — to efforts underway in the military.

Without such efforts, she said, “you really have no sense at all today of what the depth of the problem is, or isn’t.”

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