ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — Just this week, Governor Hochul announced a new sexual harassment hotline, where those experiencing harassment in the workplace can call to receive free legal advice. The hotline will be staffed by pro bono attorneys for New York’s Division of Human Rights. That number is 1-800-HARASS-3.
It was over two year ago former Governor Andrew Cuomo faced accusations of sexual harassment by multiple women, including Alyssa McGrath, who was an executive assistant in the Governor’s office in 2018. She described the workplace environment as the “twilight zone and… the typical rules did not apply.”
Amanda Rue is Founder of the Shift Worship, a human-resource consultancy that offers anti-sexist training. Rue herself has experienced workplace harassment and did not feel comfortable going to her Human Resource department, “Having a resource like a toll-free hotline that has counsel on the other end of it would have been so helpful to know what my rights are as an employee and what legally I can do and what is just sometimes inappropriate in the workplace versus illegal,” she said.
However attorney, Marjorie Mesidor has some concerns. She says, on it’s face, the hotline is a great idea, but it’s being supported by the Division of Human Rights, a department she says is overworked, “The NYS Division of Human Rights is an agency that historically has been under-resourced in order to handle the volume of complaints and cases that come through their door.”
She says this additional role could result in improper investigations if more resources are not made available. Mesidor says the hotline is better for anonymity but: “It’s not better for the issue of liability. Because when it comes to certain statutes and depending on who the harasser is there needs to be notice to the employer in order for you to implicate any liability against the employer.”