Speaker Silver announces reforms to assembly sexual harassment policies
ALBANY, N.Y. – Acknowledging that serious mistakes were made in the New York
State Assembly's handling of the sexual harassment accusations against former
member Vito Lopez, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver announced a series of
Incidents will no longer be considered on a case by case basis, the reforms creating
clear and mandatory pathways to handle any sexual harassment complaints.
Three major points of the reform include appointing an outside investigator,
mandatory reporting of sexual harassment complaints, and banning confidential
A budget will be provided to establish an independent investigator,
independent of the Assembly Majority central staff and the Speaker, to handle
complaints from inception and throughout the process.
Any supervisory staff or member of the Assembly who is informed by another
employee, verbally or in writing, that she or he is being harassed will now
have a mandatory duty to report it to the independent investigator. Failure to
report will be subject to immediate sanction.
Silver also announced that he will introduce - and the Assembly will soon
take up - legislation to ban the use of confidential settlements by any
government agency, including both houses of the Legislature, the Executive
branch and all state public authorities. In addition, Assembly policies will be
changed to prohibit the Assembly from entering into any such settlements.
"We have worked hard to strengthen our policies concerning sexual
harassment and to create a safe working environment, but while we fully thought
we were acting in the interests of the victims and their desire for
confidentiality, our errors in judgment resulted in the opposite effect,"
said Silver. "The strongest changes we can make will prevent future errors
in judgment by creating an independent investigator to handle such cases and
requiring mandated reporting, ensuring that any future allegation is quickly
and fully investigated."
The policy changes will be effective immediately and the legislation, which
Speaker Silver will sponsor, will be voted on as soon as possible.
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