Brittany ComakFeb 21, 2018, 6:43 pmFeb 22, 2018, 3:02 pm

New Suffolk law requires county employers to report sexual harassment complaints

Legislation also provides training to new employees

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HAUPPAUGE — Under a newly passed Suffolk law, all county departments will now be required to report the number of instances of harassment or discrimination every year directly to the legislature.

"This is not about punishment. This is the exact opposite. This is about prevention and safety," Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said.

The legislation, which was sponsored by Legislator Monica Martinez, requires new employees to be advised of their rights concerning sexual harassment in the workplace on their first day, as well as during orientation through a "know your rights pamphlet." The pamphlet will detail county policies, employee rights, and procedures. ­­­Currently, the county is looking for outside vendors who can provide extensive online training in sexual harassment prevention to all county employees.

The main goal of the legislation is for officials to be able to gather statistics on the pervasiveness of sexual harassment within the workplace and focus in on whether some county departments have more complaints than others.

Legislator Martinez says the county attorney is gathering data on cases of sexual harassment that have occurred since 2015 to bring the legislators up to speed. Those statistics will be made available to the legislature and the public at the beginning of March. Officials will then get an annual report in the years to come, so they can better analyze which departments need further training or assessing.

Legislator Martinez says she herself was sexually harassed when she was younger and hopes that greater government transparency will provide a blueprint for the private sector to follow suit.

"That experience has stayed with me until today, which is why it is so important that I led with this because I know how it feels," she said.

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