Statement from Assembly Majority Leader Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes
As a woman and the majority leader of the People’s House, I have zero tolerance for sexual harassment, and I stand in support of anyone who is the target of such reprehensible conduct. No one should be subject to this type of harassment in order to make a living – or in any other space for that matter. This is not an issue that I take lightly.
The Assembly Majority has taken many steps to address the scourge of sexual harassment that has plagued our workplaces for too long. In 2013, the Assembly Majority announced new policies to address sexual harassment here in the Assembly, including requiring an independent investigator for complaints of sexual harassment, establishing mandatory reporting requirements and banning confidential settlements. I am particularly proud that our internal policy – crafted in the wake of several high profile and horrendous incidents – has been held up as a model policy in addressing these issues by leading experts.
In 2018, the #MeToo movement shined a light on how pervasive and dangerous sexual harassment remains and drove us to reevaluate statewide sexual harassment policies. In 2018, Speaker Heastie convened the Assembly Workgroup on Sexual Harassment, which worked to develop and advance groundbreaking new sexual harassment measures included in the State Fiscal Year (SFY) 2018-19 Budget.
In 2019, the Legislature held two joint hearings to engage survivors, advocates and experts and to gain insight on how to better address this very serious issue. Later that same year, we passed a sweeping package of reforms to address harassment in the workplace.
Last month, Speaker Heastie announced the continuation of the Assembly Workgroup on Sexual Harassment and added new members to the group. As Assembly Majority Leader and a member of the workgroup, I am proud of our efforts and know this must be an ongoing discussion.
Recently, advocates have raised a number of issues that deserve consideration. We support victims of harassment, and we are committed to getting this right, which means this must be a deliberative and thorough process. We will continue to evaluate how the current measures are working and how we can add value and improve upon them to ensure a harassment free work environment.