City pols are looking to toughen policies on sexual harassment when it comes to the city workforce — saying every agency should be required to disclose how many complaints they get.
Councilman Mark Levine and others are also pushing to change the Council’s rules — so that all harassment complaints against Council staffers are sent to the body’s ethics committee.
“There’s something of a national awakening to the epidemic of sexual harassment and abuse of power by men in the workplace,” Levine (D-Manhattan) said Thursday. “It would be dangerously naive of us to assume that we’re not facing a similar epidemic in the workforce of this city.”
Levine is drafting legislation that would require each city agency to report every six months on how many sexual harassment complaints they have received. They’d also have to reveal the type of complaints, detailing whether they’re physical or not.
The outcome of the cases, including the amount resolved through firing, warnings or vindication of the accused employee, will also be reported.
Levine is pushing for a change to the Council’s own rules, so every sexual harassment complaint would trigger an investigation by the Committee on Standards and Ethics.
Currently, complaints against Council members go to that committee, but complaints against aides are handled internally by the Council’s central staff. Under the proposed changes, the committee’s deliberations would be private but the outcome of cases would be public.
“This moment has the potential to be a turning point, but it will only stick if policy makers seize this opportunity to not just punish individual abusers but reform the system,” said Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal (D-Manhattan).
Another bill would require that city workers who report harassment have access to information about the progress of the case.
A third proposal would create a task force to recommend other changes to the city’s harassment policies.