Dems unveil anti-workplace harassment bill

Stefani Reynolds

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

Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Democratic Reps. Katherine Clark (Mass.), Ayanna Pressley (Mass.), Elissa Slotkin (Mich.) and Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (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 Harris (D-Calif.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.), among other senators.

{mosads}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.

Tags Amy Klobuchar Ayanna Pressley Be HEARD Act Bernie Sanders Cory Booker Debbie Mucarsel-Powell Elissa Slotkin Elizabeth Warren Katherine Clark Kirsten Gillibrand Patty Murray Sexual harassment Sexual misconduct
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