In Era of #MeToo, NYC Businesses To Adapt To New Sexual Harassment Standards

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The state and city are trying to change the way businesses think about and handle sexual harassment in the workplace, but some businesses are having a hard time keeping up with the new guidelines and training, which some researchers don’t believe go far enough to make real change. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

In the wake of the #MeToo movement and the revelation to many men that the majority of women in their lives have been and will continue to be subjected to harassment and discrimination, New York decided to try and create some solutions to the problem with new campaigns. The state and city are trying to change the way businesses think about and handle sexual harassment in the workplace, but some businesses are having a hard time keeping up with the new guidelines and training, which some researchers don’t believe go far enough to make real change, according to the New York Post.

Businesses need to start implementing new training requirements and policies for employees that are meant to try and stop all forms of harassment. The businesses have to comply by Oct. 9, according to the New York Post. Whether or not the businesses meet the deadline may be more of a moot point now that a number of those businesses look more ready to challenge the changes than to accept them.

“I was shocked to hear about these new laws,” one New York City business owner told the New York Post. “I’m sure training is good, but I hope Albany doesn’t start legislating me on how to run my business,” he said, believing such actions could develop “a slippery slope.”

“We’re not in disagreement with the laws — but the lack of adequate notification to employers, particularly to small business owners, is frustrating,” Greg Biryla, who is the New York state director of the National Federation of Independent Business, said.

“We’re also concerned about a missed opportunity to craft better policies that would have suited a wider variety of employees, rather than having this one-size-fits-all approach,” Biryla said.

Even the lawyers take some umbrage with the new initiatives, despite seeing the need for them. Ian Carleton Schaefer, who works for Epstein Becker Green as an expert in employment law, was happy that the government wants to do something about the problem of harassment but told the New York Post he believes that “the annual requirement and 2019 deadlines for compliance can be challenging for large enterprise employers.”

Elizabeth Clemants works for Leadership12 as a mediator on gender workplace issues and spoke to the New York Post about the recent changes. “I find we are telling people about the laws for the first time because they didn’t even know about them,” Clemants said. Clemants and a study done by Motivate Design feel that the rules can only do so much and even run the risk of making women have an even more negative feel regarding the workplace.

“These do not solve the fundamental problem,” Mona Patel, who is Motivate Design’s CEO said. “You have to first articulate the problem, what exactly is sexual harassment, and also foster a better work environment, all of which these laws fail to address.”