Ayanna Pressley and Debbie Mucarsel-Powell Want Workers Who Face Harassment to Be Heard
Congresswomen Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) and Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-FL) think it’s time for workers who have been harassed to be heard, and on Tuesday, they introduced legislation aimed to do exactly that. The Bringing an End to Harassment by Enhancing Accountability and Rejecting Discrimination (Be HEARD) in the Workplace Act is the first comprehensive bill addressing workplace harassment and sexual assault following the #MeToo movement that emerged in 2017, and lawmakers say it sends a clear message to those who think they can get away with assault or harassment on the job: time is up. “This is for the brave women of the Boston Fire Department, the hotel workers I worked alongside when I was scraping money together to help my family, the transgender men and women who face discrimination for living their truth,” Pressley said. “This is for those workers who shared their stories and instead of justice, faced retaliation. Now is the time to push the conversations and the policies so that those who have been suffering in silence feel seen and represented in our democracy.” The measure would put an end to mandatory arbitration and pre-employment non-disclosure agreements, which prevent workers from coming forward and holding perpetrators and businesses accountable. It would also allow workers more time to report harassment and authorizes grants to support legal assistance for workers who have low incomes, and lifts the cap on damages when workers pursue legal action and win their cases. And it would eliminate the tipped minimum wage, because tipped workers are disproportionately vulnerable to sexual harassment and discrimination by both clients and supervisors. The legislation also includes language clarifying that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity is illegal under the Civil Rights Act, a move that could help protect LGBTQ workers. “It shouldn’t matter what you look like, whom you love, your seniority in the workplace, whether you are salaried or a tipped employee, every American must have the right to dignified employment,” Mucarsel-Powell said. The lawmakers were joined by Congresswomen Katherine Clark (D-MA) and Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) as well as Senator Patty Murray (D-WA). More here.