US Andrew Cuomo's Sexual Harassment Bill Lowered Bar for Complaints, Eliminated 'Severe' Requirement
Andrew Cuomo: The rise and the reckoning
It’s like a slow-motion car crash where the unthinkable becomes the inevitable. Welcome to the saga of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, scion of street-seasoned champion Mario Cuomo, a Democratic icon long known for ground-breaking achievements and heart-moving prose. Instead of following his dad's rise to the top, Andrew is now hurtling for a reckoning he can neither control nor stop. © UPI Photo Andrew Cuomo: The rise and the reckoning This is no random accident - but rather one long in the making, with devastating collateral impact.
Prior to being accused of sexual harassment, New York Governorsigned a bill into law that significantly lowered the bar for proving harassment claims and extended greater protections to victims.
In August 2019, Cuomo approved the Human Rights Law, which eliminated the restriction that harassment must be "severe or pervasive" to be legally actionable. The bill also made it easier for employees to file harassment complaints, and extended the statute of limitations from employment sexual harassment claims from one year to three years.
The Cuomo allegations matter
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Under this law, any action in the workplace that rises above "petty slights and trivial inconveniences" can qualify as harassment, and victims are no longer required to identify a history of harassment or similar examples of misconduct from a perpetrator.
Now the legislation is coming to light amid accusations that Cuomo sexually harassed three women—including two of his former employees.
On February 24, Lindsey Boylan, a former aide to Cuomo,against the governor that included unwanted sexual advances such as a forceable kiss and an invitation to play strip poker.
In a blog post, Boylan said that Cuomo had "created a culture within his administration where sexual harassment and bullying is so pervasive that it is not only condoned but expected."
Few Democratic governors speak up on Cuomo sexual harassment allegations
Democratic governors mainly remain silent on the sexual harassment allegations brought against Gov. Andrew Cuomo.CNBC reached out to the nearly two dozen Democratic governors in the U.S. to ask about the allegations made by two female former Cuomo aides and another woman.
Days later, Charlotte Bennet, another former aide to Cuomo,with questions about her sex life and whether she would consider dating an older man.
"I understood that the governor wanted to sleep with me, and felt horribly uncomfortable and scared," Bennett told The New York Times.
A third women, Anna Ruch, also told the Times of. She said that she had met the governor at a wedding in September 2019 where he put his hand on her exposed lower back and she pulled away.
"I was so confused and shocked and embarrassed," Ruch said.
The sexual harassment claims also came to light amidacross the state who disagree with him.
In response to the sexual harassment allegations, Cuomo denied making advances or "inappropriately" touching anybody, but acknowledged that his behavior might have been harmful in ways that he was unaware of at the time.
Lindsey Boylan Says She's Not Focused on Punishing Andrew Cuomo, 'I Just Want the Abuse to Stop'
Boylan said she was moved to speak out against the governor after seeing he had been floated to lead the U.S. Justice Department under President Joe Biden.When asked what she thought of Cuomo's response to the allegations, Lindsey Boylan, a former aide for the governor, told Harper's Bazaar, "I just want the abuse to stop. I'm really not focused on punishment. I'm focused on accountability.
"It was unintentional, and I truly and deeply apologize for it," Cuomo said. "I feel awful about it, and frankly I am embarrassed by it, and that is not easy to say. But that is the truth," the governor
Cuomo has since faced bipartisan calls toor be . But during his remarks to the media, Cuomo insisted he would not be stepping down and instead asked New Yorkers to wait for the results of a full investigation by the New York attorney general.
"I have learned an important lesson. I am sorry. I am sorry for whatever pain I have caused anyone. I never intended it," he added.
Boylan and Bennet have since rejected Cuomo's apologies and asserted that they wereand "not accurate."
"How can New Yorkers trust you @NYGovCuomo to lead our state if you 'don't know' when you've been inappropriate with your own staff?," Boylan tweeted on Wednesday.
Newsweek contacted Cuomo's office for additional comment, but did not hear back in time for publication.
Sens. Schumer, Gillibrand and most House Dems from N.Y. call for Cuomo to resign .
A defiant Cuomo said he won't bow "to cancel culture" and isn't going anywhere.“Confronting and overcoming the Covid crisis requires sure and steady leadership. We commend the brave actions of the individuals who have come forward with serious allegations of abuse and misconduct. Due to the multiple, credible sexual harassment and misconduct allegations, it is clear that Governor Cuomo has lost the confidence of his governing partners and the people of New York. Governor Cuomo should resign,” Schumer and Gillibrand said in a joint statement issued early Friday evening.