STATEMENT: The BE HEARD Act Would Empower Workers to Fight Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
Washington, D.C. — Today, Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Rep. Katherine Clark (D-MA) introduced the Bringing an End to Harassment by Enhancing Accountability and Rejecting Discrimination (BE HEARD) in the Workplace Act, a bill to support workers by expanding protections from sexual harassment in the workplace and and improving transparency surrounding these incidents. Jocelyn Frye, a senior fellow with the Women’s Initiative at the Center for American Progress, released the following statement to mark the bill’s introduction:
For months, the #MeToo movement has dominated the public discourse. Yet too often, the conversation has focused on high-profile figures being called to task for their actions. But the problem of sexual harassment is not just one facing the rich and famous; it is an everyday epidemic that occurs in everyday spaces across the country—in every industry and occupation. It confronts people from all walks of life, people of all genders, races, and disability statuses—often compounding the effects of multiple forms of bias. Most importantly, it confronts workers who do not benefit from the same visibility as those in more elite industries—restaurant workers, farmworkers, housekeepers, and caregivers.
No worker should have to endure harassment in order to earn a decent wage and support their family. Combating sexual harassment requires comprehensive solutions to address the different facets of the problem—and the BE HEARD Act is a critical step forward. The proposal would eliminate barriers that can prevent workers from coming forward with harassment claims; strengthen legal protections to promote greater employer accountability for discriminatory work environments; improve education and training on harassment prevention measures; expand supports for low-income workers who may be more vulnerable to threats that can put their livelihood at risk; and more. These protections are essential to ensure that every worker can work in an environment that is free of discrimination. Taking concrete steps to end sexual harassment is long overdue, and this legislation is a critical step forward.
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