New York lawmakers passed sweeping sexual harassment legislation on Wednesday night, along with a bill extending the statute of limitations on second- and third-degree rape to close out the legislative session.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) plans to sign the bills in coming days, according to a spokesperson.
“Under the status quo, sporadic sexual harassment is permissible as long as it is not pervasive — that’s unacceptable and we are changing it,” Cuomo said in a statement.
Once signed into law, the bill will effectively make it easier for employees to come forward with sexual harassment allegations. Among other protective measures, the bill eliminates the state’s “severe or pervasive” standard to prove harassment, according to The New York Times.
Sexual harassment had been Albany’s “worst-kept secret,” the New York Times reports, adding that the bill passed after several former staffers, known as the Sexual Harassment Working Group, lobbied, sharing stories of being ignored and paid to be silent.
The bill had not been introduced before last year. Several bills that had been continuously blocked by the Republican-controlled state Senate, with the help of a group of renegade Democrats known as the Independent Democratic Caucus, were passed after New York Democrats took control of both chambers in 2018.
The Time’s Up movement helped push for the passage of New York’s extended statute of limitations for rape in the second and third degree.
The new law will extend the statute of limitations from five years rape to 20 and 10 years, respectively.
“By providing victims more time to bring claims in court, we are honoring those who suffered pain, endured humiliation, and had the courage to come forward,” Cuomo said in a statement.
Actress Mira Sorvino, who advocated for the bills in Albany last week and shared her story of surviving rape, cheered the legislature’s vote.
“We did it!! Never underestimate the power of people who say #TimesUp to make change!!” Sorvino tweeted.
— Mira Sorvino (@MiraSorvino) June 19, 2019