Issue 133
September 18, 2019
"With the signing of this legislation, employers across all sectors will be held accountable for addressing all forms of sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace."
State Senator Alessandra Biaggi
Melissa Gollance

? In the eyes of New York State ?

This week we’re talking about Alexis Marquez, the woman who is tackling an antiquated and heinous loophole in New York State law that has allowed employers to circumvent sexual harassment regulations. We’re breaking down Alexis' case, our state law, and what her story means for the #MeToo movement. P.S. We can’t wait to see you at our next training a week from today, Sept. 25th. We’ll be unpacking the layers of local government and the many ways YOU can make a difference without running for office.
Alexis Marquez was an attorney for NY State judge Douglas Hoffman in Manhattan. Within weeks of her hiring, Justice Hoffman started engaging in harassing behavior, insisting she eat lunch with him daily, commenting on her clothing, and sending emails on the weekend to her personal address. She asked him to stop and eventually transferred offices. But weeks later she was officially fired by NY State. Marquez filed a lawsuit, but state lawyers argued they'd never employed Marquez in the first place, despite her salary being paid by the state, and her tax forms listing the state as her employer. Yep, you read that right. There's a clause in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act that specifically excludes the “personal staff” of elected officials from the law’s protections—which is fucked up on SO many levels.
This batshit argument has been used successfully in some of the most high-profile sexual harassment cases involving New York politicians. We’re appalled this happened to Marquez in the first place, but the attention the case has gotten has us *cautiously* optimistic. This past June, state lawmakers passed a package of long overdue bills to empower rape survivors and workplace sexual harassment victims to seek justice. The reforms go into effect in the next year, but we must hold lawmakers accountable for transparent implementation of these new laws. We must also make sure they address the Title VII loophole brought to light by the Marquez case.
The new laws are a step in the right direction, but there’s always more work to be done. Here’s what you can do to support the cause:

Know Your Rights in the workplace & spread the word!

Hold your employer accountable! Effective Oct. 9, 2018, all New York employers are required by law to establish an annual sexual-harassment training program, and the first training must be completed by Oct. 9, 2019. Check out more info HERE.

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