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Anti-Sexual Harassment Measures Pass In New York State Senate

Mike Groll
Cathy Young, R-Olean, listens to a speaker during a hearing in Albany, N.Y., in 2014.

The New York State Senate approved anti-sexual harassment legislation that includes an end to secret settlements. It would also no longer allow state officials who admit to sexual harassment to use taxpayer funds to settle their cases.  

Senate sponsor Cathy Young, a Republican from Olean, says the bill prohibits mandatory arbitration in sexual harassment cases, a clause that she says has in the past protected abusers. 

“It’s people like Harvey Weinstein and people of that ilk,” said Young, who says up until now, some companies have required employees to sign agreements that they will be keep any accusations of sexual harassment private and within the company system, instead of taking their complaints to court.

“As a result of that, they’ve gotten away with this over and over and over again, ” Young said.

Democrats say it doesn’t go far enough, but say in some aspects it is better than a proposal by Governor Cuomo, who has asked that anti-sexual harassment measures be considered as part of the state budget.

The leader of one of the factions in the Senate, Senator Jeff Klein of the Independent Democratic Conference, has been accused of forcibly kissing a former aid. He has denied the charge. The state ethics commission is investigating.

Karen has covered state government and politics for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 New York and Connecticut stations, since 1990. She is also a regular contributor to the statewide public television program about New York State government, New York Now. She appears on the reporter’s roundtable segment, and interviews newsmakers.