70% Of NYS Women: Workplace Sexual Harassment Is a Problem (But “Hope for Reform Remains Strong”)

An article in the New York Law Journal reminds us that “the workplace sexual harassment crisis is not waning.”

It cites a poll from Sienna College which shows that almost half of all women in NYS have been victims of sexual harassment, and that 70% say that workplace sexual harassment is a problem.

However, reporter Amy R. Foote notes that “Hope for reform remains strong amid recent social and legal changes, signaling a cultural sea change might be on the horizon.”


As a first factor she cites the #MeToo movement as an initiative “driving change,” such as New York’s laws and regulations “requiring all city and state employers to adopt a written sexual harassment prevention policy and institute annual anti-harassment training for all employees.”

However, she provides the following warning to employers:

Considering that sexual harassment lawsuits filed by the EEOC increased by 50 percent in 2017, wherein damages paid by employers rose from $47 million to $70 million, it is likely that New York-based employment attorneys could see an uptick in costly legal actions with more employees empowered to file sexual harassment claims. Given that these claims can take up to a year or more to be settled, and legal costs can reach hundreds of thousands if a defendant loses a summary judgment motion, it is imperative that legal teams ensure they understand new regulations, as well as alternate prevention methods, and encourage company executives―CEOs, compliance officers, and HR leadership―to invest sufficient resources in preventing and putting an end to sexual harassment in the workplace.

It was only last week that I wrote that “Sexual harassment avoidance training is a must for all employers in New York – I mean, it is required by law!  Amy and I have been doing these trainings for a long time, and now that it is mandatory we are getting really busy.”

Don’t wait for a lawsuit – take steps now to avoid sexual harassment claims!

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Richard Cohen

Richard B. Cohen is a partner in the New York City office of FisherBroyles, LLP, a national law firm. Richard Cohen has litigated and arbitrated complex corporate, commercial and employment disputes for more than 35 years, and is a trusted advisor to business owners and in-house counsel both in the United States and internationally. His clients have included Fortune 100 companies, domestic and foreign commercial and investment banks, Pacific-rim corporations and real estate development companies, as well as start-up businesses throughout the United States. Email Richard at [email protected]