This bill would impose unwarranted and expensive training and notification obligations on private sector employers in New York State. The Business Council opposes enactment of this bill.
This bill comes shortly after two arrests for alleged sexual assaults occurring in two New York City hotels. Our current legal system is now applying the appropriate process to adjudicate these allegations. There would have been no impact had the employer obligations contained in this proposal been in affect prior to the alleged assaults by the two individuals referred to. The mandates in this bill are unnecessary.
- This bill would require hotel and motel employers to:
- provide a “know your rights” brochure in five languages to new employees upon hire;
- obtain from each new employee a signed acknowledgement that the “know your rights” brochure has been received;
- within two months of hiring, commence training to new employees on federal, state and local laws concerning sexual harassment to include remedies available to victims and practical examples to supervisors for the prevention of sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation;
- compile and issue an annual certification report to the state labor department that the training was completed, along with a list of employees trained, for the purpose of receiving an annual “certificate of compliance” from the department;
- post another workplace bulletin-board notice in up to five languages, an “employee bill of rights” devised by the state labor department. This one would join the almost dozen other bulletin-board postings already required by various levels of government to be posted by private sector employers;
- implement, under the supervision of the labor department, a comprehensive and confidential incident reporting system; it is unclear who would have access to “confidential” incidents;
These unnecessary and time consuming requirements are an attempt to single out one sector of an industry that is already under the heavy hand of state government. This bill does not consider safety systems that these employers already employ nor does it reflect the culture, size and location of these businesses and their vast diversity here in New York State.
- We wonder who are viewed as the guilty parties under this legislation. After all these requirements are imposed and presumably successfully implemented, the bill specifically includes employer liability for sexual harassment by current and former employees and applicants. The whole premise of this bill is alleged behavior by hotel guests, not current or former employees. The guilty party appears to be the employer, not the guest who may commit the harassment and on whose alleged actions this bill is based.
- For hotels whose employees are represented by collective bargaining representatives, this bill undermines the collective bargaining process. If sexual harassment has been or is of concern to union members, their representatives have always had the ability to negotiate with management each and every provision contained in this bill. The sponsor’s memo contains no references to such concerns on the part of represented hotel employees or their union’s inability to bargain for such provisions.
- There is no mention of the implementation costs of this bill’s provisions to the many private hotels and motels across the state that would be saddled with new, unwarranted costs. There is a statement that they are to be determined. A full calculation of the costs needs to be completed by the advocates or sponsors of this bill before any additional legislative actions occur.
- As we work toward improvement of the state’s economy and the creation of jobs lost in the last several years, the Legislature needs to send loud and clear positive messages to businesses in and out of the state, especially to the Travel & Tourism Industry which plays a critical role in creating jobs and generating tax revenue. Enactment of this bill sends no such message. In fact, it sends the all too familiar message that the New York State Legislature stands ready to find new and different ways to interfere with business and worsen the business climate.
- The Business Council suggests that the Legislature and labor department act in a supportive role to businesses on this issue. It would be of great service to our state’s employers if the labor department researched and prepared a sexual harassment brochure for use with new employees as well as the protocol for sexual harassment training contained in this bill. The state already does this kind of training on a regular basis. This would be genuinely helpful in complementing current voluntary employee education by employers and avoid all the objectionable mandates, penalties and inferences about the state’s hotels contained in this bill.
For these reasons, The Business Council opposes this bill and strongly urges that it not be enacted by the New York State Legislature.