With the #MeToo era in full swing, elected officials in Westchester are implementing a zero-tolerance policy in regards to sexual harassment.
Westchester County Executive George Latimer signed an Executive Order that “strengthens Westchester’s sexual harassment policy to emphasize a zero-tolerance policy towards all forms of harassment or discrimination and prohibits any conduct that creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment or which is otherwise inappropriate or unprofessional.”
The new policy comes following a law signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo that requires municipalities to create written anti-sexual harassment policies that are based on a model developed by the New York State Department of Labor and Division of Human Rights.
The new policy:
- Makes clear that it applies to everyone working for and at the county, including interns, vendors, consultants, contractors. It is not limited to paid county employees;
- Makes clear that managers and supervisors are required to report any instances of sexual harassment, and may be subject to discipline for failing to do so;
- Provides a more thorough explanation of what constitutes sexual harassment, and provides a number of clear examples; and
- Adds a section on external legal protections and remedies.
“Our society has for too long been operating in a culture of keeping quiet and what these past two years have shown us is that the only way to combat a grave injustice is to shed a light on it," Latimer said. "We will not allow Westchester County to operate under a ‘1950s hush-hush’ environment.
"What we are aiming to do with this new policy is make sure these issues are at the forefront of every County employees’ mind. There is no excuse for not understanding what is intolerable in any work setting.”
Westchester County Office for Women Director Robi Schlaff added, "we in Westchester County are committed to protecting victims and ensuring that their voices are heard. We will not tolerate protecting perpetrators of sexual harassment and continue to make sure justice is served.”
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