At the beginning of Women’s History Month, the Senate Democratic majority passed seven bills aimed at clarifying sexual harrassemnt laws in the workplace, including the Let Survivors Speak Act. This comes after former Gov. Andrew Cuomo left office due to sexual harrassment allegations from his female staff.

“It is the right of every New Yorker to be treated equally and respectfully in the workplace,” said Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins in a statement. “As lawmakers, it is our responsibility to protect survivors of sexual assault and harassment and ensure that all employers in New York State foster a safe and respectful work environment for their employees.”

The laws work to close loopholes, extend the statute of limitations, and ensure that sexual harassment policies are clear for all employees across the public and private sectors, said Stewart-Cousins.

The Let Survivors Speak Act, or bill S.738, was sponsored by Sen. Alessandra Biaggi. It reforms the dreaded Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) laws that financially penalize people who speak out about their abuse. Biaggi also sponsored the bill that establishes a toll-free confidential hotline for workplace complaints.

“Last year, we witnessed a paradigm shift in our state’s culture—New Yorkers made it clear that workplaces that silence, stifle and abuse survivors of sexual harassment will no longer will be tolerated,” said Biaggi in a statement.

Biaggi said that the legislature used the outrage over Cuomo’s sexual harrassment allegations as momentum to get laws passed. “Both of these bills will strengthen sexual harassment protections in the workplace and provide survivors with the opportuntiy to freely speak their truth, without fear of retaliation,” said Biaggi.

Other bills include banning the ‘no-rehire’ clause in settlement agreements, raising the statute of limitations to three years for all unlawful discriminatory complaints, and protecting employees against unlawful discrimination or retaliation.

Ariama C. Long is a Report for America corps member and writes about culture and politics in New York City for The Amsterdam News. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep her writing stories like this one; please consider making a tax-deductible gift of any amount today by visiting: https://tinyurl.com/fcszwj8w

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