On Tuesday, June 12, The Albany Times Union hosted a discussion of the #MeToo movement led by a panel comprised of attorney Sarah Burger, President of Pinnacle Human Resources Rose Miller, and State Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon. Emma Willard School was a proud sponsor of the event.
While popularized last year by actress Alyssa Milano, the #MeToo movement was actually created in 2006 by activist Tarana Burke. Burger started off the discussion by defining what sexual harassment was legally, and Miller added that it wasn’t until 1986 that sexual harassment was determined to be in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and that while regulations and laws to prevent sexual harassment and more have been in existence for decades, the “needle didn’t move” significantly until the 2017 resurgence of #MeToo.
“What’s inspiring is how many women are coming out and running for office,” said Simon. “They are livid and are not going to take it anymore.”
The panel outlined that changes to legislation in New York state would include the following: expanded budgeting for investigators of human rights complaints, amended finance law to mandate that any company bidding on a state contract would have to provide proof that they had a sexual harassment policy and provide annual trainings to employees, state law would prohibit mandatory arbitration clauses in employment agreements, and non-disclosure agreements would be up to claimant discretion.
All of the panelists agreed that education around these issues should start at an earlier age and that must be geared to all genders—the problem cannot lie solely on the backs of women.