WASHINGTON — Members of Congress, led by Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Congresswoman Katherine Clark (MA-5), and Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-7) introduced the Bringing an End to Harassment by Enhancing Accountability and Rejecting Discrimination in the Workplace Act (“BE HEARD in the Workplace Act”) today, which sets out sweeping reforms to prevent and address harassment in workplaces across the country.
The legislation would expand existing protections to small business employees and independent and federal contractors, who are currently excluded from Title VII law. It would put into effect a series of new protections for workers, including prohibiting mandatory arbitration and pre-dispute nondisclosure agreements, prohibiting retaliation, and eliminating caps on damages for discrimination claims. The bill also addresses historic discrimination against LGBTQ workers and older workers.
Not only does the BE HEARD Act work to create pathways to respond to harassment, but it also facilitates the creation of workplace harassment prevention strategies and provides resources to assist employers in combatting discrimination.
Ronald Newman, national political director at the American Civil Liberties Union, had the following response:
“For too long, harassment and discrimination have been a painful reality of the workplace, denying workers equal employment opportunities and dignity. Women workers, especially those who labor in low wage jobs, have continued to shine a light on this insidious problem, including most recently by the #MeToo movement.
“Finally, with the BE HEARD in the Workplace Act, survivors of sexual harassment and other forms of discrimination will have more legal protections and fewer barriers to justice. The long overdue bill strengthens and expands our nation’s antidiscrimination laws and addresses harassment on the basis of sex—including sexual orientation and gender identity—as well as race, ethnicity, age, disability, and religion.
“We are proud to support a bill that protects the civil rights and dignity of millions of workers and be part of the movement towards lasting, systemic change.”