Murray, Clark, Pressley —Joined by Workers, Survivors, and Advocates—Introduce Sweeping Legislation to Address Harassment in the Workplace
Members introduce ambitious bill to prevent and address workplace harassment of all kinds, strengthen and expand key protections to all workers, and support workers in seeking accountability and justice
Members were joined by workers, survivors, and advocates who shared their personal experiences with workplace assault and harassment
Bill follows up on findings from Murray’s oversight report spotlighting harassment across industries from Hollywood, to Congress, board rooms, restaurants, manufacturing floors, farm fields, and more
Murray: “No matter who you are or where you work—whether you are the only woman on the board, or a janitor, or farm worker, you should be treated fairly, respectfully, and with dignity.”
Clark: “Today, we’re saying time’s up: no more silence, no more compliance. We are balancing the scale that has for too long been tipped toward the wealthy, the well-connected and the powerful.”
Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, Congresswoman Katherine Clark (D-MA-5), Vice Chair of the House Democratic Caucus, and Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (D-MA-7) introduced the Bringing an End to Harassment by Enhancing Accountability and Rejecting Discrimination (Be HEARD) in the Workplace Act, legislation which takes critical steps to ensure businesses have more resources to prevent harassment and workers have more support when they seek accountability and justice, and sends a clear message to those who think they can get away with assault or harassment on the job: time is up.
The Members announced the introduction at a press conference with survivors and advocates who shared their personal stories about workplace assault and harassment, and leaders from the National Women's Law Center (NWLC), The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
“No matter who you are or where you work—whether you are the only woman on the board, or a janitor, or farm worker, you should be treated fairly, respectfully, and with dignity. This should be true no matter your gender or race, your religion or sexual orientation or age—and regardless of whether you have a disability or are a veteran.” said Senator Murray. “For far too long and for far too many people in our country this hasn’t been true. So today, I’m proud to be standing up to fight for change and make clear that time is up.”
“Today, we’re saying time’s up: no more silence, no more compliance. We are balancing the scale that has for too long been tipped toward the wealthy, the well-connected and the powerful. The Be Heard Act will put long-overdue protections and accountability into law and remove barriers to justice,” said Congresswoman Clark.
The Be HEARD Act will:
- Strengthen understanding of workplace harassment and help businesses prevent it: The Be HEARD Act invests in research about the economic impact of workplace harassment, requires regular reporting on the prevalence of workplace harassment, and ensures that workers have access to more information and training about what constitutes harassment and their rights if they are harassed.
- Help ensure transparency: The Be HEARD Act puts an end to mandatory arbitration and pre-employment non-disclosure agreements, which prevent workers from coming forward and holding perpetrators and businesses accountable.
- Broaden and expand civil rights protections to all workers: The Be HEARD Act builds on and strengthens existing civil rights laws by expanding protections for workers, while also safeguarding existing antidiscrimination laws and protections. It strengthens civil rights protections for all workers and makes clear that the Civil Rights Act protects against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the context of workplace discrimination. It also ensures that no matter where you work—and whether you are an independent contractor or an intern—your rights are protected.
- Empower workers who come forward with reports of harassment or retaliation to ensure they get support: The Be HEARD Act allows workers more time to report harassment, authorizes grants to support legal assistance for workers who have low incomes, invests in delivering more resources to the state level to help workers ensure their rights are protected, and lifts the cap on damages when workers pursue legal action and win their cases.
- Eliminate the tipped wage: The Be HEARD Act eliminates the tipped minimum wage, because tipped workers are disproportionately vulnerable to sexual harassment and discrimination by both clients and supervisors.
In addition to the Members, other speakers at the press conference included: Venorica Tucker, worker and advocate with Restaurant Opportunity Centers, Jennifer Glover, security guard represented by TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund, Adriana Cazorla, domestic worker and advocate with National Domestic Workers’ Alliance, Maria del Carmen Ruelas, farm worker with Justice for Migrant Women Advocates, Emily Martin, NWLC Vice President for Education & Workplace Justice, Vanita Gupta, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights President and CEO, and Lenora Lapidus, ACLU Director of the Women’s Rights Project.
The other co-leads for the House bill introduction are: Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin (D-MI-8) and Congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-FL-26).
The Senate bill is co-sponsored by: Senators Kamala Harris (D-CA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Bob Casey (D-PA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Ed Markey (D-MA), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL).
The legislation has been endorsed by: Leadership Conference for Civil and Human Rights, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), National Women's Law Center (NWLC), NAACP, TIME'S UP, Human Rights Campaign (HRC), Bazelon Center for Mental Health, National Domestic Workers Alliance, Women Employed, Working IDEAL, National Partnership for Women & Families, Justice for Migrant Women, UltraViolet, National Alliance to End Sexual Violence (NAESV), Futures Without Violence, National Employment Law Project (NELP), People for the American Way, Workplace Fairness, National Employment Lawyers Association (NELA), J Street, 9to5, Women Donors Network, Feminist Majority, Harnish Foundation, RALIANCE, The Employee Rights Advocacy Institute for Law & Policy, Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) United, Equal Rights Advocates, National Organization for Women, NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, Center for American Progress, American Association of University Women, Economic Opportunity Institute, Legal Voice, Communications Workers of America, Working Washington, Women’s Law Project, Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, Oxfam America, National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, National Center for Women’s Equity in Apprenticeship and Employment at CWIT, MS Black Women’s Roundtable, Make it Work Nevada, Kentucky Equal Justice Center, Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund (CWEALF), Compliance USA, Inc., Chicago Women’s Trades, Building Pathways, Black Women’s Roundtable, A Better Balance, AFL-CIO, CLASP, YWCA-USA, Service Employees International Union (SEIU), American Federation of Teachers (AFT), and National Nurses United.
Watch the full press conference announcing the Be HEARD Act HERE.
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