Accusations against Gov. Andrew Cuomo bring issues of harassment at work to forefront

We will speak with an employment attorney and HR expert about the best ways to identify harassment, report it and the next steps for continuing to work with the same company or finding a new job.
3:56 | 03/02/21

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Transcript for Accusations against Gov. Andrew Cuomo bring issues of harassment at work to forefront
Right now we are going to turn to more on those troubling headlines about New York governor Andrew Cuomo as we said. He is under fire for sexual harassment claims and reignited the conversation about young women in the workforce, their rights, how to identify harassment and what steps to take. Joining us is Angela red dock-wright. What could discrimination or sexual harassment look like in the workplace? Well, discrimination might take the form of a woman overlooked for a promotion, maybe she's not able to make late night zoom meetings compared to a co-worker but sexual harassment is a little different. That might take on the form of suggestive comments, jokes or innuendo, possibly even unwanted touching or advances, so it's a little different flavor. If you feel like it's taking place what is the first step in how to handle it? I think the first step is to display -- I realize it takes courage but confront the person privately. That by far can resolve it and be the best solution because the next step is more of a nuclei option because you'll have a full on investigation. But if it isn't resolved with that first conversation, the discomfort of saying something or not saying something is the same. So you might as well pave the way for people coming behind you and actually bring it up and see if you can make it better. I'm surprised you said that. Let me follow up before I bring in Angela as well. If the person is your boss, isn't it tough to go to them personally? Yes, it's very difficult, it's very uncomfortable. And yet showing that -- showing courage and consideration to do that often will resolve it. Angela, if harassment is reported, what is the company's legal obligation? Great question, George. And thank you for having me on. So first and foremost under federal and state law, the company has a duty to conduct an mediate investigation of the complaint. Even if the company doesn't believe the complaint, even if the company doesn't think it has any merit there is a duty to conduct an investigation. And that investigation should be impartial, it should be immediate. It should be thorough and most importantly it should be independent. So generally a company, especially with the high profile matter will want to bring someone in from the outside. A third party who has no vested interest in the matter other than to get to the truth. Everyone should know that there are protections for employees who do come forward. Most definitely and we know that young people in the workplace in particular might fear losing their job. May fear most importantly retaliation so the biggest protection is under most company policies it states that if you come forward that you are protected and you should not fear retaliation. An employee might also request to be separated from the alleged harasser, they might request time off or consultation with the employee assistance program and also and always an option is to talk to someone like Tessa in human resources, human resources is your go to confidant, the organization -- part of the organization that you should feel comfortable going to even if you feel like you're being retaliated against and ask them to see how they can protect you. Thank you and, Tessa, after a report there can often be tension in the workplace. What's the best way to handle that. Once you've made a report let the professionals do the investigation and the best thing you can do is heads down, be professional, don't talk to others about the situation, get along with your co-workers, perform and let people who know how to handle this because they're very complex issue, let them do their work. Keep on and do the best you can but don't be afraid to report it. Great advice, thanks. We'll be right back. Good morning.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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