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Tackling sexual harassment in the workplace: How should the state proceed?

WBFO file photo

With more sexual harassment cases coming into the light, a debate is developing on how to stop similar workplace incidents from emerging in the future.  Two members of the local state delegation shared their views on the matter.

Sparking the debate on the state level are the multiple investigations underway into sexual harassment claims against Sam Hoyt - a former Empire State Development official.  Before instituting any new laws, State Senator Patrick Gallivan wants to wait for the results of those inquiries.

"A lot of people have been turned off by government and don't have a lot of trust in government at this point. But when you look at the jobs that the various investigative agencies are responsible to do we do have to put trust and faith in them to conduct the appropriate investigation," Gallivan said.

"There is an investigation going on and, I think, before people are critical of the end result, we have to wait and see what happens with the investigation - what the outcome might be."

Last year, Hoyt allegedly paid his accuser, Lisa Marie Cater, $50,000 to avoid embarrassing his family.

Assemblyman Mickey Kearns says in 2013 he tried getting legislation passed that would have ended secret settlements in New York state.

"You know, states like Texas, very conservative states, they don't have secret settlements," Kearns pointed out.

"I don't think we should be spending government money, hush money, on sexual harassment claims, without the public knowing how much money and who is it going to."
Along with the state investigations, a lawsuit in federal court is underway against Hoyt.