U.S. Reps. Katherine Clark and Ayanna Pressley on Tuesday introduced a sweeping sexual harassment bill they said will add needed federal enforcement power to stop the kinds of workplace inequalities, mistreatment and violence brought to public spotlight by the #MeToo movement.
Standing alongside other lawmakers, advocates and workers who told stories of harassment on Capitol Hill, Clark and Pressley unveiled the Bringing an End to Harassment by Enhancing Accountability and Rejecting Discrimination (Be HEARD) in the Workplace Act. The legislation aims to give express federal protection against sexual harassment and sexual orientation discrimination on the job.
Pressley said the bill “would put us one step closer to making toxic workplace harassment and discrimination a dark memory of the past.
“As a former hotel worker I’m acutely aware of the powerlessness that many workers feel in what is too often deemed an invisible workforce," the Boston Democrat said.
The bill would require employers to report incidents of sexual harassment, bar mandatory arbitration and pre-employment nondisclosure agreements, expand anti-retaliation laws, and end the tipped minimum wage.
Clark says low-wage workers are disproportionately vulnerable to harassment, but are in a weaker position to fight it.
“Women and men in every type of workplace have seen harassment and discrimination be brushed aside for far too long,” the Melrose Democrat said. “Today we have a simple message: Time’s up.”
Co-sponsors include Sen. Patty Murray (D-Washington), and Reps. Elissa Slotkin (D-Michigan) and Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-Florida). Massachusetts U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey are also co-sponsors.