According to a press release from the desk of Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, new legislation intended to eradicate workplace harassment has been introduced.
The act is known as the “Bringing an End to Harassment by Enhancing Accountability and Rejecting Discrimination” in the Workplace act, or the “Be HEARD” act for short. And it not only lays out critical guidelines to ensure that businesses have the resources they need to stop harassment but also to ensure that workers are safe and supported when they decide to report said harassment and are free from retaliation or retribution. The release specifically uses the words “time is up” in regards to workplace harassment, invoking the current Time’s Up movement.
Pressley had this to say in terms of what inspired the bill:
“Our bill will put us one step closer to making toxic workplace harassment and discrimination a dark memory of the past. This is for the brave women of the Boston Fire Department, for the hotel workers I worked alongside when I was scrapping money together to help my family, for the transgender men and women who face discrimination for living their truth. 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.”
As for as introducing the bill, Pressley is joined by fellow Democrats and lawmakers Congresswoman Katherine Clark (MA-05), Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin (MI-08), and Congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (FL-26).
Senator Murray adds: “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. 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,” Congresswoman Clark concludes.
The bill was originally announced by the above lawmakers at a conference that saw advocates and survivors come together with The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the National Women’s Law Center to share their experiences with workplace harassment and assault and also discuss what exactly the Be HEARD Act would do.
This includes the following (per the release):
– 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
– 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.
– 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.
– 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 anti-discrimination 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.
– Eliminate the tipped minimum wage, because tipped workers are disproportionately vulnerable to sexual harassment and discrimination by both clients and supervisors.