Zero Tolerance for Sexual Harassment in New York City June 4th, 2013

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CONTACT: Mary C. Palmer
mpalmer@wccny.org
212-353-8070

 

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

ZERO TOLERANCE FOR SEXUAL HARASSEMENT IN NEW YORK CITY
The Women’s City Club Urges City Council to Hold Hearing on
NYC Agencies’ Sexual Harassment Policies

New York, NY – June 3, 2013. The Women’s City Club of New York (WCC) welcomes the official probe launched to investigate claims against two NYC’s Parks and Recreation Department male supervisors accused of sexual harassment in the workplace. However, the WCC remains deeply concerned about the effectiveness of the City’s policies in preventing such violations and in protecting its employees from sexual harassment. The WCC is calling on the City Council to hold an immediate hearing on the adequacy of these policies.

According to press reports, on May 22, 2013, the Parks & Recreation Department was made aware of sexual harassment complaints submitted by two women hired as seasonal workers. They immediately referred the matter to the Department of Investigation.

The two accused male supervisors allegedly engaged at various times since 2009 in systematic and inappropriate touching, sexual advances and pole dancing contests at the Parks Department employee gatherings. The victims are reportedly seasonal workers. Data show that many women who are seasonal Parks Department workers are low-income single mothers, some of whom are referred to the Parks Department through public assistance job placement services. Seasonal positions can range anywhere from four to six months at a time, underlining the vulnerability of a number of these women faced with the possibility of losing their jobs or not being invited to return to the Parks Department the following season.

“What is most disturbing is that the two accused supervisors reportedly engaged in sexual harassment for a number of years with impunity,” says Taina Bien-Aimé, WCC’s executive director, “which is why we are also calling for increased, comprehensive training of City and State employees in the prevention of sexual harassment in the workplace.”

Although men can also face sexual harassment, women are its most likely victims. The NYC Commission on Human Rights defines sexual harassment as a form of gender-based discrimination that includes unwelcome verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature often used as the basis for employment decisions; it often creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment. Harm from sexual harassment ranges from loss of dignity to psychological and/or physical injury, humiliation, damage to one’s reputation and career and fear from retaliation. Sexual harassment also violates federal employment discrimination law. It is critical that the full extent of the law is used to prosecute perpetrators of sexual harassment and to provide justice to its victims.

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The Women’s City Club of New York, established in 1915, is a non-profit, non-partisan, multi-issue activist organization dedicated to improving the lives of all New Yorkers. The WCC shapes public policy to promote responsive government through education, issue analysis, advocacy and civic participation.