Expansive New Workplace Harassment Bill Introduced

April 12, 2019

Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) have introduced the Bringing an End to Harassment by Enhancing Accountability and Rejecting Discrimination in the Workplace Act that would substantially expand federal harassment and discrimination laws by drawing on many of the recommendations in Sen. Murray’s 2018 harassment report.

The "Be HEARD Act" goes much further than previous legislation by:

  • Changing the current “severe or pervasive” standard for harassment by articulating in the statute specific factors for determining harassment;

  • Extending Title VII protections to independent contractors;

  • Ending mandatory arbitration and pre-employment nondisclosure agreements;

  • Creating a national prevalence survey on workplace harassment conducted by the Census Bureau;

  • Eliminating caps on Title VII compensatory and punitive damages;

  • Expanding anti-retaliation laws; and

  • Giving employees 4 years to report harassment.

The measure would also eliminate the tipped minimum wage and provide legal support and assistance to low-wage employees to pursue their claims.

Outlook:  Although the bill has little chance of passing the GOP Senate, it was cosponsored by most of the Democratic Senators who are running for President and therefore is more likely to become a rallying point than the more modest bipartisan EMPOWER Act (S. 574).