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Sexual Harassment: Lawmakers Argue for Tougher Laws

January 8, 2018, on Sex Crimes |

In the state of New York, there are strict rules in place prohibiting sexual offenses. A New York sex crimes defense attorney should be consulted if you have been accused of a sex crime as you could face life-changing penalties if you are convicted of a sexually-based offense.

While there are already strict laws in place to prohibit many different kinds of unlawful sexual conduct, Auburn Pub reports that some New York lawmakers are arguing that there should be stricter new penalties for sexual harassment. 

New York Lawmakers Argue for Tougher Penalties on Sexual Harassment

According to Auburn Pub, new legislation has been introduced in New York to address sexual harassment in workplaces.  The new law is called the Sexual Harassment Accountability and Protection Act.  The law would:

  • Prohibit secret settlements: Many settlements related to sex offenses currently contain confidentiality clauses. New laws would aim to discourage sexual predators by prohibiting courts from accepting settlements that require confidentiality. By prohibiting misconduct from being kept secret, lawmakers believe it would encourage employers to be stricter about discouraging bad behavior and would ensure those who engaged in bad behavior are held accountable.
  • Prohibit mandatory arbitration: Employees often are required to sign mandatory arbitration agreements in which they agree to arbitrate, rather than litigate, workplace disputes. This prevents sexual offenders from seeking legal action in court.
  • Expand the definition of employer: Lawmakers want employer to now include companies that employ independent contractors so those contractors can be provided with more protections from harassment.
  • Create an official definition of sexual harassment under New York State Law: The New York Division of Human Rights uses a decision administratively, but there is no clear definition under the laws of New York State. This can leave victims subject to varying interpretations by judges so not all victims of sexual harassment are treated in the same way.

It remains uncertain whether the bill will pass in order to usher in changes to the laws in New York related to sexual harassment. The proposal to make these changes has arisen in a time when sexual harassment has come to the forefront of public attention. There have been numerous high profile figures accused of various types of sexual misconduct and a movement called the MeToo movement has been encouraging more women to come forward and report bad behaviors and improper actions. 

In light of the strong public attention paid to harassment, it is likely there will be some move towards providing broader protection for alleged victims who claim they are treated inappropriately in the workplace.

While protecting the rights of victims is important, it is also important to protect the rights of the accused and to ensure that those who are facing criminal or civil consequences for alleged harassment are treated fairly. A New York sex crimes defense attorney can provide representation to defendants accused of wrongdoing who are faced with penalties that could change their lives

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