Women of the Pennsylvania House and Senate on Dec. 11 joined to take a stand against sexual harassment and abuse and discuss proposed legislation to better protect victims.
“The recent stories from around the country and right here in the PA legislature show that sexual harassment and abuse have been overlooked for far too long,” said Rep. Margo Davidson, D- Delaware,chair of the Democratic Women’s Caucus.
“We’re here to say enough is enough. It is long past time that we step up to protect women and ensure that harassment is not only taken seriously, but that women feel safe enough to come forward as soon as possible. We also stand together to say that the culture, which appears pervasive, of sexual misconduct in the workplace and domestic abuse at home will not be brushed aside, swept under the rug or tolerated on any level at all, any longer,” Davidson said.
Women of the House and Senate stood together to discuss legislation being introduced that would better protect women and all victims of harassment and abuse, according to a news release from the House Democratic Communications Office.
Rep. Leanne Krueger-Braneky is introducing legislation to create the #METOO PA General Assembly (Member and Employee Training and Oversight on PA General Assembly) Act. The legislation would ban non-disclosure agreements that mask the names of General Assembly members who harass, prohibit General Assembly members from using taxpayer funds to pay settlement costs, and provide for other reforms.
“The #MeToo movement shows that we need a change in our culture, and our state Capitol is no exception. For far too long in this building, complaints of harassment have been swept under the rug,” said Krueger-Braneky, D-Delaware. “We must believe women and stand with anyone who is a victim of harassment.”
A bill being introduced by Rep. Maureen Madden, D-Monroe, would legally protect all employees in Pennsylvania from unwanted sexual harassment by extending the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act to any entity that has more than one employee.
“As a nation, we’ve built up a quiet culture of acceptance around sexual harassment, sexual assault and gender discrimination,” Madden said. “I think as a nation, these last few months have shown that the only way to get rid of this silent tolerance is to be loud and intolerant of this social ill. My fellow legislators and I are saying ‘Me Too’ because even we, some of the most powerful women in the Commonwealth, face sexual harassment and this must end.”
Rep. Carol Hill-Evans, D-York, has introduced legislation to create a task force to examine sexual assault on college campuses.
“As the sponsor of H.B. 1633, which seeks to set up a Task Force on Campus Sexual Assault, I know that sexual harassment and assault is an all too common problem in our Commonwealth,” said Hill-Evans. “The #MeToo movement has given us, as a society and as legislators, the opportunity to address this problem head-on. That means beginning here in the hall of the Capitol by holding ourselves to the highest standards and showing that sexual harassment and assault is totally unacceptable.”
Sen. Judy Schwank is also introducing legislation that would prohibit non-disclosure agreements within contracts or secret settlements related to sexual harassment or misconduct.