SURVIVORS / GRASSROOTS ORGANIZATIONS CALL ON HOCHUL TO TAKE BOLD ACTION TO REFORM ALBANY
#NYBOLD Agenda Addresses Ethics, Gender Equity, Sexual Violence & Sexual Harassment
Albany, NY – More than 100 survivors, allied groups, small businesses, and community leaders are calling on incoming Governor Kathy Hochul to take bold action to restore public trust in the office of Governor. The #NYBOLD Agenda addresses government ethics, gender equity, sexual violence, and sexual harassment in a systemic and decisive way.
The #NYBOLD Agenda is a set of policies – including legislation and executive orders – designed to root out some of the causes of gender inequity and bring much-needed accountability to those who inflict harm through sexual and gender-based violence and harassment. The coalition is asking Governor Hochul to work actively and publicly to advance this package. It’s now up to her to fight for women, BIPOC, and non-binary people who are disproportionately affected by systemic injustice.
“Coming into office on the heels of yet another sexual harassment crisis, it is imperative that Governor Kathy Hochul address sexual violence, sexual harassment and gender inequity in a bold and decisive way. These policies will help restore trust in government and send a clear message to all New Yorkers that there’s a new way of doing business in Albany.” – Mary Ellen O’Loughlin, Survivor and Executive Director, The Foundation for Survivors of Abuse
“It is beyond time to reform the state’s ethics oversight system, shore up and fully follow FOIL laws, and increase transparency about conflicts of interest. We are confident that incoming Governor Kathy Hochul sees the importance of these common-sense issues and understands the role they play in restoring integrity to the Executive Office and confidence in our state government. We ask her to join us in fully endorsing this agenda and working with the community to improve ethics standards.” – Susan Lerner, Executive Director, Common Cause/NY
“We look forward to working with the next governor to move this survivor-focused agenda forward. Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul stood with us when we celebrated the passage of the Child Victims Act, which has allowed thousands of survivors an opportunity to seek justice. We have every confidence she will stand with us again as we urge the Assembly to pass the Adult Survivors Act to give adult survivors of sexual abuse or violence the same chance to find healing.” – Michael Polenberg, Vice President of Government Affairs at Safe Horizon
“This agenda lays out a strong path in our fight to create a truly harassment-free New York. By embodying the institutional courage it takes to protect workers in state government and the private sector in passing these laws, Governor Hochul will send a clear message that worker dignity will take precedence over politics throughout her tenure.” – Sexual Harassment Working Group
This is a moment for bold action.
Priorities for a sexual/gender-based violence & harassment free New York include:
The Adult Survivors Act (S.66 Hoylman / A.648 L. Rosenthal): Modeled after the Child Victims Act, this bill gives a one-year window to currently time-barred adult survivors of sexual assault to bring a civil case against a perpetrator or negligent institution. There are many reasons why survivors do not come forward right away – including trauma, fear, retaliation, economic dependency on an abuser, and immigration status. All survivors deserve an adequate pathway to justice.
Include New York State and all public employers as employers subject to the provisions of the human rights law (S.3395-A Gounardes / A.2483-B Niou): This bill eliminates the “license to harass” by codifying that under the New York State Human Rights Law, staff of elected and appointed officials are employees of the governmental entity(ies) for which they work, whether it is New York State, or a city, county, or municipality. Current federal Title VII contains a carve-out for the “personal staff” of elected officials, exempting those workers from protections against discrimination and harassment. This has been used to deny employees recourse. Some government entities have argued that they are not the employer of a victim who works for an elected or appointed official. This distinction has been used to try to deny employees legal recourse for the harassment, discrimination, abuse, or retaliation they suffered.
A real statewide “$15 for All,” including immediate executive action requiring all restaurant employers to pay the state’s full minimum wage with tips on top: This executive order would raise the state’s subminimum wage for tipped workers from 66 percent of the minimum wage to 100 percent of it, potentially over five years (2026). The seven states that already require restaurants to pay One Fair Wage have one half the rate of sexual harassment as states that require employers to pay the federal subminimum wage for tipped workers. Thus, this executive action would immediately and substantively decrease the incidence of sexual harassment in one of New York’s largest industries.
Providing grant support to independent restaurant employers who have committed to an immediate transition to the $15 minimum wage with tips on top: Mayors and governors in six states have implemented the High Road Kitchens program, which provides grant support to restaurateurs who commit to paying a $15 minimum wage with tips on top and are undergoing a three-part Equity Training program that teaches them how to profitably raise wages and equity in their businesses, including addressing rampant sexual harassment in the industry. In New York, this program could have special focus on women-owned and BIPOC-owned restaurants.
Expanding the statute of limitation on employment discrimination (S.849-A Gounardes / A.2233-A L. Rosenthal): Extends the statute of limitations for harassment suits to six years. Currently, survivors only have three years to file their claim in court before the statute of limitations expires. Processing trauma and choosing to move forward in a formal and public way can take much longer than three years.
Solutions Not Suspensions Act (A.5197 Nolan / S.7198 Jackson): Encourage the use of positive and age-appropriate disciplinary strategies and eliminate the use of out-of-school suspensions for minor infractions, among other provisions. Across New York State, students of color, students with disabilities, and students that identify as LGBTQ and gender non-conforming are subject to discriminatory, disparate, punitive, and unfair school discipline policies and practices. Students collectively lose hundreds of thousands of days in the classroom each year because of suspensions, often for normal youthful behavior. Black and Latinx girls are disproportionately impacted by the state’s biased and ineffective school discipline policies. Outside of NYC, Black girls in elementary/middle school are 4 times more likely to be suspended compared to white girls in elementary school. Outside of NYC, Black girls in high school are 9 times more likely to be suspended compared to white girls in high school. In NYC, Latinx girls are 3 times more likely to be suspended and Black girls are 8 times more likely to be suspended than their white peers.
Executive action to authorize the Office of Victim Services to accept alternative documentation, other than a police report, when considering the eligibility of crime victim reimbursement: This action will make grants more accessible to men of color, undocumented New Yorkers, criminalized survivors, and victims of police violence.
Reform the State’s Ethics Oversight System: Since its creation, the Joint Commission on Public Ethics –– the ethics body tasked with holding legislators and their staff accountable for all ethics violations including gender-based harassment and discrimination –– has been harnessed for political cover. Combined with the similar lack of independence of the other various state entities that play a role in maintaining accountability (such as the Inspector General’s Office, Governor’s Office of Employee Relations, and the Legislative Ethics Commission), it’s not surprising to see how people in positions of power continue to get away with corruption, harassment, and other abusive behaviors. The entire system must be rebuilt, and this cannot be done in a silo (which is how we got to where we are today). Public hearings carry powerful and unique value – creating space for experts, advocates, and people with lived experiences to share their stories and recommendations. Governor Hochul can and should convene a series of public hearings on how to best address ethical issues, including and especially harassment and discrimination, in state government.
Increase Transparency: The key to public faith in their elected leaders’ decisions is good communication and transparency. Clear, enforceable statements of ethical standards and guidelines that are put in place to deal with conflicts of interest are imperative to maintaining credibility with the public and the press. New York’s Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) and Open Meetings Law have not been effectively updated in decades, and the previous administration was infamous for its disregard of those laws. Governor Hochul can and should strike a new note of transparency and openness, starting with assuring that her administration supports prompt and open compliance with FOIL requests rather than obfuscation and delay, and providing verifiable details on how the administration will deal with conflicts of interest. In doing so, she will set herself apart from the Cuomo Administration.
Empowering People in Rights Enforcement (EmPIRE) Worker Protection Act (S.12 Hoylman / A.5876 Joyner): A majority ofNew York employers (55 percent) use forced arbitration clauses to deny workers the right to go before a judge and jury when companies break the law. It is justice denied in the fine print! Female workers (57.6 percent) and Black workers (59.1 percent) are subjected to forced arbitration at the highest rates. Once a worker has signed a forced arbitration clause, one of the only options to address violations is private arbitration, where the deck is stacked against workers and in favor of employers. Faced with this choice and the staggering cost of arbitration, 98 percent of workers abandon their claims and law-breaking employers get off the hook. The EmPIRE Act empowers New Yorkers to combat retaliation, pay discrimination, and other labor violations by allowing whistleblowers to file claims on behalf of the state against an employer for violations of State labor laws and brings much-needed revenue into the state’s coffers through fines on abusive employers.
Expand Insurance Coverage for Women and Immigrants: The Hochul Administration must look for ways to expand health insurance coverage for women and immigrants in her first Executive Budget Proposal. Women are more likely to manage the healthcare needs of their families, and women immigrants, in particular, lack access to health insurance. Quality and accessible health and mental health services are also vital to survivors of sexual and domestic violence.
“As our state transitions into new leadership, we have an opportunity to meet the urgent needs of immigrant, Black, and brown New Yorkers, who experienced deep hardships throughout this pandemic. We urge the incoming-Governor to ensure excluded workers and tenants finally receive the relief they deserve. It is imperative that Governor Hochul takes bold action to bring transformative change to our communities, including passing the EmPIRE Worker Protection Act to protect our workers, ending the school-to-prison pipeline by passing the Solutions Not Suspensions Act and expanding badly needed health coverage to all New Yorkers.” – Arlenis Morel, Co-Executive Director of Make the Road New York.
“We are thrilled to be congratulating Kathy Hochul for becoming Governor of New York. As the first woman Governor of the Empire State, and coming into office on the heels of a sexual harassment crisis no less, we are hoping to work with her to prioritize ending the subminimum wage for tipped restaurant workers. In doing so, she’d align with President Biden, thousands of independent restaurant owners, and hundreds of thousands of restaurant workers calling for One Fair Wage as the single most effective means to cut sexual harassment in the restaurant industry – the industry with the highest levels of sexual harassment. Restaurant workers – especially women and women of color – cannot afford to be put on the back burner for another second in this crisis moment for restaurants in New York. More than 50 percent of New York restaurant workers are considering quitting the industry, and they won’t go back to restaurants until they can earn full, fair, livable wages with tips on top.” – Saru Jayaraman, Executive Director of One Fair Wage
“As Governor, Kathy Hochul can show survivors we matter, that the abuse and harassment we experienced was wrong, and that we deserve the opportunity to seek justice for ourselves. By supporting legislation like the Adult Survivors Act, she can reset the power imbalance in New York by prioritizing survivors’ trauma and healing over the silence where sexual and gender-based violence fester.” Marissa Hoechstetter, Survivor/Advocate, one of over 200 Robert Hadden victims
“Governor Kathy Hochul is not only our first woman governor, but she also has the huge job of repairing the damage from the old administration. Many of us who fought long and hard for the Adult Survivors Act saw the bill pass unanimously in the Senate only to die in the Assembly without a vote. Victims of sexual violence deserve their long overdue day in court and we call on Governor Hochul to put her full support behind the ASA. We present to Governor Hochul our list of bills that help BIPOC, women, and non-binary people. Governor Hochul, it’s your job to stand with survivors, to open doors to them, and to walk through all together.” – Carrie Goldberg, Owner C.A. Goldberg, PLLC
“This essential slate of proposals will help prevent sexual violence in New York State and assist those who have experienced harm by increasing pathways to justice and healing. We are proud to join this coalition of organizations and individuals in calling on New York’s next Governor to take bold action that centers survivors and their lived experiences. We welcome the opportunity to partner with incoming Governor Hochul on bringing this agenda and our vision of a safer state for survivors to fruition.” – Christopher E. Bromson, Executive Director, Crime Victims Treatment Center
“SNAP has worked with hundreds of survivors abused by priests and other clergy members in New York State. We know there are many reasons victims and survivors cannot come forward right away about the abuse they’ve endured. Trauma, manipulation, stigma, and reliance on a perpetrator for spiritual healing are all factors contributing to delayed disclosure. We fully endorse the Adult Survivors Act and call on Governor Hochul to join us in increasing pathways to justice for victims of sexual abuse. This is a moment for accountability.” – Zach Hiner, Executive Director of SNAP
“As Governor, Kathy Hochul must show she’s galvanizing the entire state government to repair the real damage Andrew Cuomo did during his decade in office. The first order of business should be to assure a sexual/gender-based violence & harassment-free New York. With that assurance as a foundation for progress, our state can move forward on transformative policies and budgets to achieve real economic, social and racial justice.” – Michael Kink, esq., Executive Director, Strong Economy For All Coalition
“Using a combination of her executive authority and leadership in the legislature, Governor Hochul can quickly deliver real change for women workers across New York State by embracing this important slate of practical proposals. By breaking the gridlock that has stalled these crucial protections in the past, the new governor can show her commitment to turning the page for New York’s working women.” – Paul Sonn, state policy program director for the National Employment Law Project
“Tipped service professionals like myself need and deserve full minimum wage on top of tips. As bad as the subminimum wage always was, it’s even harder now. I have a lot of colleagues who are leaving the restaurant industry because it’s not worth it without One Fair Wage. Customer hostility and sexual harassment have been at an all-time high since the pandemic began – especially this summer with restaurants reopening and people getting more comfortable, customers are now feeling more emboldened than ever to treat service staff terribly. My wages shouldn’t rely on someone whom I have to enforce a mask mandate, or now, a vaccinate mandate. It’s an impossible ask. We need Governor Hochul to lead the way and take bold action to eradicate violence against women at work and pass One Fair Wage.” – Annette Alcala, Restaurant Worker, New York City
“As a small business owner who has rode the emotional and relentless wave of the last 18 months during this pandemic, we are begging for support from our leaders. We need you to pass a real statewide $15 for All including immediate executive action requiring all restaurant employers to pay the state’s full minimum wage with tips on top. At our Hudson Valley restaurant we have transitioned away from the sub-minimum wage, we are not paying anyone less than $18 an hour, and we are offering paid time off and health insurance to all of our employees. However, we cannot make it as a business if our government does not level the playing field. When employers are incentivized to pay the lowest wages, and to sweep harassment and mental health issues under the rug, everyone suffers – especially restaurant workers. I have seen so many peers leave the industry over the last year and there will be no end in sight unless our government gives us the support we so greatly need.” – Sarah Suarez – Gaskins
“The resignation of Andrew Cuomo in the wake of sexual harassment of 11 women clearly illustrated that while there has been progress made recently for worker protections and access to justice for survivors of sexual assault and harassment, there is still a lot more to be done. We strongly urge incoming Governor Hochul to take an active role in advocating for and passing these critical pieces of legislation so we can ensure that the harassment and injustice Cuomo’s victims endured do not happen anymore in this state. These reforms reflect the lived experiences and realities of women across the state, in all sectors and industries, and will go a long way in ensuring their safety.” – Asher Lovy, Survivor
“The fragmented and profit-driven healthcare system leaves too many New Yorkers unable to access or afford care. We look forward to working with Governor Hochul to make New York a leader in expanding the right to healthcare.” – Ursula Rozum, Campaign for NY Health
The following organizations, businesses, and community leaders have signed on to endorse the #NYBOLD Agenda:
ACT UP NY
Alliance for Quality Education
America Loves Kids
Bend the Arc
Bowen Public Affairs Consulting, Inc.
C.A. Goldberg, PLLC
Callen-Lorde Community Health Center
Carroll Gardens Association
Campaign for NY Health
Chinese-American Planning Council (CPC)
Citizen Action of New York
Commission of the Public’s Health System
Crime Victims Treatment Center
Cuti Hecker Wang LLP
Day One New York, Inc.
Downstate Coalition for Crime Victims
Downtown Women for Change
Dr. Celia Mcintosh-McIntosh Advocacy and Consulting
Empire State Indivisible
Foundation for Survivors of Abuse
Greater NYC for Change
HEAL (Health, Environment, Agriculture, Labor) Food Alliance
Hunger Free America
Indivisible Mohawk Valley
Indivisible Nassau County
Indivisible Nation BK
Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility
Jews for Racial & economic Justice
Just Equity for Health
Literacy Assistance Center
Long Island Activists
Make the Road New York
Morningside Heights Resistance
Nassau NOW/Patty Pastor, President
National Employment Law Project
National Partnership for Women & Families
National Women’s Law Center
Network for a Sustainable Tomorrow
New York Civic Engagement Table
New York Communities for Change
New York Progressive Action Network
New York State Council of Churches
New York State Public Affairs Committee of the Junior Leagues
New York Working Families Party
Nobody Leaves Mid Hudson
Nonprofit New York
One Fair Wage
One Fair Wage Action
Outten & Golden LLP
Peer/NYPAN (Progressive East End Reformers)
Progressive Women of Pelham
Release Aging People in Prison Campaign/RAPP
Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights
Rochester Regional Coalition Against Human Trafficking
Sanctuary for Families
Sexual Harassment Working Group
Staten Island Women Who March
Strong Economy for All Coalition
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
The Sex Workers Project of the Urban Justice Center
Together We Will Long Island
Tompkins County Progressives
V-Day/One Billion Rising
Violence Intervention Program
Vote Run Lead
Women Together Global, Inc.
Worker Justice Center of NY
Zevin Asset Management
200 victims & survivors of Columbia OB/GYN Robert Hadden, represented by Anthony T. DiPietro, Esq.
Alison Turkos, Survivor/Advocate
Alessandra Biaggi, Survivor/State Senator
Alysia Reiner, Actress/Activist
Amelia Tramontano, Survivor/Advocate
Asher Lovy, Survivor/Advocate
Brian Toale, Survivor/Advocate
Camille Rivera, Survivor
Chris Gavagan, Survivor/Documentarian
Christy Turlington Burns
Elish Melchiade, Survivor
Emilia Decaudin, Democratic District Leader
Emily Adams, executive committee member of the NYS Democratic Committee
Holly G. Atkinson
Ilse Knecht, Director of Policy & Advocacy, Joyful Heart Foundation
Jessica González-Rojas, Survivor
Kristin Wunder, MPH
Marissa Hoechstetter, Survivor/Advocate
Mariah Grant, Survivor/Advocate
Mary Ellen O’Loughlin, Survivor & Executive Director of the Foundation for Survivors of Abuse
Melanie D’Arrigo, Survivor
Natasha S. Alexenko, Survivor/Advocate
Natasha Anushri Anandaraja, MD, MPH
Susan Celia Swan
V (formerly Eve Ensler)
Yuh-Line Niou, Survivor
Supportive Small Businesses:
Barbara Sibley, Owner, La Palapa Restaurant
Chamo’s Arepas Bar
Coast and Valley
Elisa’s Love Bites Dessert Atelier
La Adelita de Woodside
McIntosh Advocacy and Consulting
Nick’s Luncheonette LLC, DBA Gaskins
PLG Hospitality LLC
Punda Tibetan Restaurant
RAISE High Road Restaurants
Sarah Suarez, Owner, Gaskins Restaurant
Tin Chi House