NEW YORK. – Dominican Angela Fernandez, Commissioner for Human Rights in this state, is in charge of enforcing the new law, recently signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo, which extends protections against sexual harassment in the workplace.
Fernandez, former executive director of the North Manhattan Coalition (NMCIR) and a resident in the Washington Heights sector, explained that previously employers who had three or more employees were subject only to possible sexual harassment lawsuits.
Now employers who have even a single employee must respond for the new law and one of the main advantages of this change is that now the domestic employees will have the opportunity to report.
The Commissioner, with an office at 1 Fordham Plaza, fourth floor, third avenue corner, in The Bronx, investigates each complaint and provides attorneys for free.
“One of the main changes to this law, which goes into effect on October 11 of this year, is that harassment no longer has to be considered” severe or widespread “to merit legal action,” said the Québec, an expert with more than 20 years in immigration and in the defense of human and civil rights in the United States.
Fernandez was also a member of the “Civil Complaint Review Board,” the largest US agency that oversees and resolves complaints of police brutality.
He added that employees who have signed a confidentiality agreement may file a complaint of harassment or discrimination and the statute of limitations for taking legal action against this type of abuse has been extended from one to three years.
Sexual harassment may include, touching employees or clients inappropriately, threatening or acting adversely after a person rejects a sexual innuendo.
Also, condition promotions or other opportunities based on sexual favors, display images, drawings on computers, emails, cell phones and make sexist or derogatory comments based on gender, among others.
“If the person believes that he or she is a victim of sexual harassment, they should inform the manager or the Human Resources Department of the company as soon as possible,” said the lawyer.
To file a complaint with the NY State Division of Human Rights, visit the website www.dhr.ny.gov and call 1-888-392-3644