Legal Review: Bill Addressing Sexual Harassment Stalled In the Senate

By employment law attorney Tom Spiggle, who is barred and practices in the state of Virginia, with The Spiggle Law Firm.

There is concern from some Democrats in Congress that a bill targeting sexual harassment in the workplace still had not passed. Democratic Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.), who is the highest-ranked Democrat on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, noted earlier this month that Republican leaders have not yet acted.

On April 10, she asked the Republican chairman on the committee, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), to hold a meeting on this issue as soon as possible. The HELP Committee oversees workplace issues, including sexual harassment.

“This is a major issue affecting employees in the workplace, and we should take the matter very seriously, said Tom Spiggle, Principal at The Spiggle Law Firm located in Washington, D.C. “As we have seen, these issues are pervasive and starting to come to light; too many workers who are just trying to work have had to deal with a hostile or offensive work environment without legal protections for far too long. A bill on this issue is long overdue.”

In March, female Senators, both Democrats and Republicans, signed a letter asking the Senate to take up this issue. The House already approved an earlier version. Senator Murray also reminded her colleagues in the Senate that anti-harassment policies still need to be addressed and updated at Capitol Hill, their place of work.

Democrats first asked for a hearing on this issue in January, responding to the #MeToo movement that has spread through many industries.

While the public sees the accusations against famous people when they are in the press; however, this issue exists in workplaces at all levels of pay and involves people who are not always famous.

That is why this bill is necessary, says Murray. She has asked for information from heads of the hospitality and retail industries, asking about whether any steps have been made to address the issue.

As important as this group believes the issue to be, leaders in the Senate have not yet acted. Although several bills have been introduced, some even with bipartisan support, none have advanced to the hearing stage.

One bill would address the Senate’s own processes for handling claims of sexual harassment; however, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) says that lawmakers should not pay for the settlements, and the bill has stalled.

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