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Study polls New Yorkers on workplace 'quid pro quo' sex harassment

ALBANY – Nearly 11 percent of New Yorkers over the age of 18 report having experienced sexual harassment in which a superior at work “tried to trade job benefits for sexual favors,’’ a new report out today has found.

The study by the School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University also found that 83 percent of New Yorkers want public officials to do more to address the problems associated with sexual harassment.

The findings were being presented today at a legislative hearing on the topic of sexual harassment – the first of its kind in Albany since 1992, a period that has seen a string of sexual harassment and assault cases brought against lawmakers and other officials.

The ILR school at Cornell also found that 12.2 percent of women reported encountering workplace quid pro quo sexual harassment, while 9.5 percent of men said they had also run into similar problems. Just under half of men and women reporting such harassment at work said the experiences “had an impact on (their) work life … career advancement … or ability to obtain, keep or perform a job.”

The study also found a disproportionate share of quid pro quo sexual harassment at work affecting people of color. Just under 14 percent “of people of color and those of Hispanic origin in New York State said they had experienced quid pro quo workplace sexual harassment, compared to 8.5 percent of non-Hispanic whites,’’ the study found.

The study was done by ILR Extension faculty member KC Wagner.

Linda Barrington, associate dean for outreach and sponsored research at the ILR School, said in written testimony that a number of workplace structures need to be in place to address sexual harassment problems, including effective complaint processes.

“Because workplace sexual harassment is both prevalent and complex, efforts to respond will need to be broad based, enlisting the support and engagement of a range of constituencies including employers, unions and worker centers, lawyers, educators, policymakers, and anti-violence advocates, as well as other concerned and knowledgeable individuals,’’ she said in written testimony provided to the legislative panel Wednesday.

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