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State and Federal Governments Respond to Sexual Harassment Claims

metooWithin the last six years, at least 1,000 New York State government employees have made sexual harassment complaints regarding incidents in the workplace. According to a recent Politico report, New York State taxpayers have paid at least $6.4 million for settlements connected to these complaints since 2012. This amount is comprised of 54 cases settled for a combined $5,552,880. This also includes 18 out-of- court settlements; a $60,939 judgment by the State’s Division of Human Rights; and a $103,080 payment in 2012 for misconduct by former Assemblyman Vito Lopez. The agencies with the most complaints include the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, the Office of Mental Health, and the Office of Children and Family Services. In Governor Cuomo’s State of the State, he discussed legislation that would “prevent taxpayer funds from being used for settlements against individuals relating to sexual assault and harassment.”

On the federal level, in early February, the House unanimously passed a bill that would change payouts in sexual harassment involving members and staffers. According to the new law, a lawmaker involved in such a settlement would have to pay out of his or her own pocket. This bill still need to pass the Senate.

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