ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — Experts say that 60% of people experience workplace sexual harassment. The Department of Labor and the Division of Human Rights released a joint sexual harassment prevention model on Friday.
The departments said they received feedback from workers, employers, and other stakeholders across New York on ways to better the model. Capitol Correspondent Amal Tlaige reviewed the drafted policy and has the latest thoughts from experts.
While experts say it’s an improvement, it’s still missing some key pieces. In part, the draft adds examples of sexual harassment, bystander intervention methods (which were not included in the 2019 model), and harassment in terms of gender identity.
Amanda Rue—founder of the Shift Workshop, which offers anti-sexism training—said that the gender identity component is an excellent addition. “Starting with ‘Do I respect you as a human?’ And ‘Do I respect your pronouns? Do I respect your expression of self?’ And so when we start at the very basic human level, which I think is what we’re trying to get to, what we’re really trying to get to for me is building respect and care in our workplaces first and foremost.”
The document reads: “Understanding gender diversity is essential… The gender spectrum is nuanced, but the three most common ways people identify are cis gender, trans gender, and non-binary. Respecting an individual’s gender identity is a necessary first step in establishing a safe workplace.”
But Rue says sexual harassment in the workplace is a much deeper issue that can’t just be fixed with a policy model. It usually boils down to someone trying to exert power over someone else. “We bring our whole selves into the workplace, we bring our trauma, we bring our work stuff, we bring our family stuff so we’re bringing our whole selves into the workplace but we’re expected to just be professional and just show up and do that,” said Rue.
She also added that she was disappointed that workplace relationships were not included in the draft. “Based on my research, over 70% of people at some point have had a sexual or romantic relationship in the workplace, so I think not talking about this at all continues to be an issue and it’s something that I am going to give feedback on as well, just so we have some language in there that addresses it and doesn’t just try to ignore that this is happening in our workplaces,” she said. You can offer commentary on the model for the next 30 days.