Organization Sign on letter to support City Council staff
Dear Speaker Johnson and Members of the New York City Council,
We write, as survivors and advocates, to ask the City Council to implement a truly harassment-free New York City, and express our outrage and disappointment in the Council’s failure to expel Council Member Andy King.
Despite a nearly 50-page report of substantiated charges against King—including serial sexual harassment and discrimination, intimidation and retaliation against survivors and witnesses—and a call for expulsion in a New York Daily News op-ed by King’s 2017 complainant, the Council approved ineffective recommendations for sanctions: a mere 30-day suspension, a full-time “monitor,” and a fine. These sanctions do not address the corruption of power that allowed for the workplace abuse to fester. Effectively, these measures will only serve to punish his constituents, who deserve a representative who can be trusted with full responsibilities of the office.
With these insufficient actions, the Council fails to adequately protect staff, setting a dangerous precedent that enables council members to repeatedly violate the civil rights of workers and remain in office. The Council has sent a clear message to workers, and the electorate, that many city elected officials do and will continue to tolerate sexual harassment and discrimination.
Disturbingly, these actions came just months after another Council Member was given a slap on the wrist after admitting to sexual harassment. Even after releasing a public statement that intended to minimize and dismiss his victim’s claims, and refusing to cooperate with the investigation (which caused the Council to hire an independent prosecutor), he was only made to resign his chairmanship and pay for sexual harassment training. We are acutely concerned that workers continue to be at risk and traumatized. In addition, the Council’s actions exacerbate the chilling effect on current and future workers reporting or participating in investigations.
To remain a leader in worker safety and dignity, the City Council must take necessary steps to ensure that its employees are protected ina safe, discrimination and harassment-free workplace.
We stand with the more than 130 current and former courageous City Council staffers who, in an open letter to Speaker Johnson, demand King’s expulsion from the Council and common sense reforms to improve and strengthen workplace protections. We call on Speaker Johnson and every Member of the New York City Council to immediately remove King from the Council at the next Stated Meeting.
We firmly support Council staff and join them in asking for reforms to strengthen the Council’s processes in safeguarding staff against harassment, retaliation, and other harmful behavior through an effective independent accountability system and formalized protections.
In addition, it is crucial that these internal reforms include input from those most affected: current central and council member staff. We ask that the City Council convene public hearings modeled after New York State Legislature’s 2019 harassment hearings; this would give the City Council the much-needed opportunity to review feedback from experts, advocates, survivors, and other stakeholders on how to best protect government staff from harassment and discrimination.
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