Workplace harassment in the spotlight following Cuomo probe

Keith Scott, director of education with the Safe Center, says the vast majority of the behaviors Cuomo is accused of contributed to a hostile work environment.

News 12 Staff

Aug 4, 2021, 9:21 PM

Updated 986 days ago

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With dozens of women coming forward accusing Gov. Andrew Cuomo of sexual harassment, workplace rules regarding harassment are at the forefront.
Keith Scott, director of education with the Safe Center, says the vast majority of the behaviors Cuomo is accused of contributed to a hostile work environment.
"Anything that makes someone feel uncomfortable that crosses that line of a workplace relationship is workplace harassment," says Scott. "If someone feels uncomfortable or someone's made to feel pressured, someone's having an explicit conversation or sexual conversation there's no place for that in the workplace."
Liz Osowiecki is the education coordinator at the Safe Center. Osowiecki says she is also a sexual assault survivor. She says under state law, going as far as getting too close or touching someone's face in the workplace is crossing the line. She says it could be hard for women to come forward when dealing with someone with Cuomo's power.
"Definitely seeing someone continue to rise in power would probably disempower survivors, so we want them to definitely see that their experiences are taken seriously," says Osowiecki.
Employment attorney Joshua Frank says touching someone on the shoulder once will not likely give rise to a lawsuit.
"However, the allegations against Gov. Cuomo go way beyond that of course," says Frank.
Frank says the irony is that Cuomo himself has increasingly strengthened the New York state human rights laws with respect to sexual harassment. As far as what's next in this investigation, Frank says the women can sue Cuomo individually as well as the state.
Scott says anyone has a right to come forward to human resources as long as it's a credible allegation. He says human resources can't retaliate against them.


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