ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - The New York state Senate voted to overhaul government sexual harassment policies on Monday amid renewed national attention on sexual misconduct in the workplace.
The bill that passed the Senate would create a new, uniform policy prohibiting harassment at all levels of state and local government. A newly formed independent office would be tasked with investigating complaints.
The proposal also would prohibit confidential harassment settlements and allow the government to recoup the cost of settlements between victims and a state employee.
Regarding private companies, the bill would prohibit employment contracts that mandate arbitration of harassment claims.
“Too many serial sexual predators have gotten away with bad behavior over the years,” said the bill’s sponsor, Republican Sen. Catharine Young of Olean.
Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo and some Democratic legislators have proposed their own changes, indicating broad support for modifications to the current patchwork of polices covering state employees and elected officials.
The legislation passed the Senate 55-2; the two votes in opposition came from Democrats who said they wanted a stronger bill. One of them, Sen. Liz Kruger of Manhattan, said there would be time for lawmakers and Cuomo to discuss ways to improve the bill.
“I know both sides of this aisle want to get this right,” she said.
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