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Bill proposed to look at ways to end workplace harassment

Workers across many different industries in New York may have experienced sexual harassment or know of others who have. The Senate has proposed legislation called the BE HEARD in the Workplace Act in an effort to put a stop to workplace harassment. There is also legislation in the House similar to what the BE HEARD Act aims to accomplish. If approved, a variety of actions would be taken to help the legislation meet its primary goal.

For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics would be directed to look at the economic damages related to sexual harassment at work. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission would be tasked with determining how often harassment takes place at work. It would also be required to create a working group that will look at ways to prevent harassment from occurring on the job.

Another aim of the BE HEARD Act is to eliminate the tipped wage. It is believed that those who receive tips may be more vulnerable to harassment or other abusive behavior in the workplace. The legislation would apply to companies that have more than 15 employees. It currently has the support of a variety of groups such as the ACLU and the NAACP. It is also supported by the National Domestic Workers Alliance and National Women's Law Center.

Individuals who have experienced workplace harassment may wish to discuss the issue with their employers. If private talks don't work, it may be possible to file a charge with the EEOC or file a lawsuit. Employers may be held financially liable for allowing a worker to experience harassment or discrimination on the job. They might also be held liable for retaliating against an employee after reporting incidents of harassment or discrimination at work.

Source: CNN, "Democrats unveil bill to expand protections against workplace harassment and discrimination" Clare Foran and Sunlen Serfaty, 04/09/2019

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