Dems unveil anti-workplace harassment bill

A group of Democratic lawmakers on Tuesday unveiled a bill aimed at strengthening protections against harassment in the workplace, including sexual harassment.

Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayConservation group says it will only endorse Democrats who support .5T spending plan Support the budget resolution to ensure a critical investment in child care Senate Democrats try to defuse GOP budget drama MORE (D-Wash.) and Democratic Reps. Katherine ClarkKatherine Marlea ClarkPelosi, moderates inch closer to infrastructure, budget deal House Democrats return to advance Biden's agenda in face of crises CBC presses Biden to extend eviction moratorium MORE (Mass.), Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyHaitians stuck in Texas extend Biden's immigration woes Advocates 'in utter disbelief' after Biden resumes Haitian repatriations Democratic bill would force Fed to defund fossil fuels MORE (Mass.), Elissa SlotkinElissa SlotkinBiden approval ratings drop in seven key congressional districts: GOP-aligned poll House panel approves B boost for defense budget The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by AT&T - Biden tested by Afghanistan exit, Ida's wrath MORE (Mich.) and Debbie Mucarsel-PowellDebbie Mucarsel-PowellNation's fraught politics leads to fear, scars and exits 'Blue wave' Democrats eye comebacks after losing reelection Stephanie Murphy won't run for Senate seat in Florida next year MORE (Fla.) introduced the "Be HEARD Act," which stands for Bringing an End to Harassment by Enhancing Accountability and Rejecting Discrimination in the Workplace.

Several 2020 Democratic presidential contenders have also signed onto the legislation, including Sens. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisStefanik in ad says Democrats want 'permanent election insurrection' Live coverage: California voters to decide Newsom's fate Florida woman faces five years in prison for threatening to kill Harris MORE (D-Calif.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenFederal Reserve officials' stock trading sparks ethics review Manchin keeps Washington guessing on what he wants Warren, Daines introduce bill honoring 13 killed in Kabul attack MORE (D-Mass.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandHochul tells Facebook to 'clean up the act' on abortion misinformation after Texas law Democratic senators request probe into Amazon's treatment of pregnant employees The FBI comes up empty-handed in its search for a Jan. 6 plot MORE (D-N.Y.), Bernie SandersBernie SandersDemocrats urge Biden to commute sentences of 4K people on home confinement Briahna Joy Gray: Push toward major social spending amid pandemic was 'short-lived' Sanders 'disappointed' in House panel's vote on drug prices MORE (I-Vt.), Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharHarris, CBC put weight behind activist-led National Black Voter Day Seven takeaways from California's recall election Live coverage: California voters to decide Newsom's fate MORE (D-Minn.) and Cory BookerCory BookerDOJ announces agencywide limits on chokeholds and no-knock entries Fighting poverty, the Biden way Top Senate Democrats urge Biden to take immediate action on home confinement program MORE (D-N.J.), among other senators.

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The legislation aims to eliminate the tipped minimum wage, which largely leaves service worker pay up to customers, as well as end mandatory arbitration and pre-employment nondisclosure agreements and give workers more time to report harassment, among other provisions.

"Millions of workers are not protected under our civil rights laws. Far too many are still silenced by mandatory disclosure agreements that prevent them from discussing sexual harassment and longstanding practices like the tipped wages that keep workers in certain industries especially vulnerable," Murray said at a press conference. 

"The Be HEARD Act will take strong new steps to address all of this and more," she said.

The legislation draws from recommendations outlined late last year by Murray, the top Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

Clark emphasized at the press conference Tuesday that "no matter your race, income or job, you have a right to be safe in your workplace."

“Our bill ... will put us one step closer to making toxic workplace harassment and discrimination a dark memory of the past,” Pressley added.

The bill follows other legislation introduced on Capitol Hill because of the "Me Too" movement that has put a focus on combatting sexual harassment.

Last month, bipartisan lawmakers introduced a bill aiming to establish a confidential tip-line for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and require public companies to disclose the number of settlements and judgments it is subject to for reasons of harassment, among other provisions.