BE HEARD Act to Confront Workplace Harassment in All Industries

NAWRB

Desirée Patno is the CEO and President of Women in the Housing and Real Estate Ecosystem (NAWRB) and Desirée Patno Enterprises, Inc. (DPE). With almost three decades specializing in the Housing and Real Estate Ecosystem, she leads her executive team’s expertise of championing women’s economic growth and independence.

This past Tuesday, Congress introduced Bringing an End to Harassment by Enhancing Accountability and Rejecting Discrimination in the Workplace Act, otherwise called the BE HEARD in the Workplace Act (BE HEARD Act), in an attempt to end workplace discrimination across all industries and in businesses of all sizes by improving current workplace harassment laws.

In a gist, the legislation will strengthen discrimination protections for LGBTQ workers; prohibit mandatory forced arbitration and non-disclosure agreements that prevent employees from speaking about their experiences of harassment; eliminate tipped minimum wage; and make it easier for employees to report instances of workplace harassment and receive compensation from their employers.

The BE HEARD Act distinguishes itself among other bills that have addressed workplace harassment, focusing on sexual harassment on college campuses, the military, government and other areas, because it will encompass all industries that deal with this national, and global issue.

Some of the legislation’s key provisions include:

  • Extending civil rights protections, such as the prohibition against employee discrimination, to all employees regardless of business size and to those who are not considered “employees” (e.g., interns, volunteers, trainees, etc.);
  • Offering guidelines for judges and employers to follow to help identify which conduct does and does not constitute unlawful harassment;
  • Prohibiting employers from making employees sign blanket non-disclosure agreements upon job acceptance;
  • Restoring protections for employees harassed by supervisors and making it easier to hold supervisors liable for harassment even though the supervisor does not have authority to fire, demote, promote or transfer; and
  • Assisting employers in creating workspaces that are free of harassment through research and data collection, model policies and trainings, best practices per industry; and workplace climate surveys.

The BE HEARD in the Workplace Act is taking steps in not only identifying, reporting and responding to workplace harassment but also in preventing its future occurrence. Everyone deserves to work in an inclusive evironment free from discrimination no matter their gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or position.

Read more about the proposed legislation here.

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