Representative Gregg Amore (Democrat, District 65, East Providence) is requesting that the issues brought forth by the House Commission to Study Sexual Harassment in the Workplace be heard in committee immediately following re-introduction. The package of legislation was a result of a commission, led by Chairwoman Teresa Tanzi (Democrat, District 34, South Kingstown, Narragansett), that studied existing laws and identified areas of improvement that will have a positive impact on all employees.
“Laws and protections need to be updated to take into consideration the changing work environments,” said Representative Amore. “As we learned during last year’s commission process, many of the laws have gone unchanged for over thirty years. I supported this package of bills in 2018 and, in all candor, should have spoken out more forcefully at that time. These matters need to be addressed in some of the first pieces of legislation passed in the 2019 session.”
Some of the bills proposed and introduced by the commission last session were:
- 2018-H 8281 — Submitted by Representative Evan Shanley (Democrat, District 24, Warwick), this bill would enhance a reporting requirement for state agencies and departments for violations of the fair employment practices chapter and the Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action chapter. The act would also remove legislative branch exclusion from “agency” definition.
- 2018-H 8280 — Sponsored by Representative Carol Hagan McEntee (Democrat, District 33, South Kingstown, Narragansett), this bill would exclude the period of investigation of a discrimination case by the Human Rights Commission from counting toward the statute of limitations.
- 2018-H 8275 — Submitted by Representative Camille Vella-Wilkinson (Democrat, District 21, Warwick), this act would require the Department of Children, Youth and Families and the Department of Education to identify or develop a program of age-appropriate sexual abuse and sexual awareness education.
- 2018-H 8288 – Introduced by Representative Aaron Regunberg (Democrat, District 4, Providence), this act would mandate that applicants seeking state funds, state contracts or state tax incentives in excess of $50,000 disclose on their applications the number of discrimination cases and settlements, if any, pending or concluded before the Human Rights Commission or in court within five years of the date of their application.
“With all the tools and information available to us in today’s society, we cannot stand idly by and allow our co-workers, friends and neighbors to be subject to working in a hostile environment and then be burdened with navigating an archaic and sometimes unclear system,” said Amore. “When these incidents occur, whether they be in the workplace or in the State House, it is important that a person knows exactly where to go to address their grievances and that there is a safe, supportive, consistent and fair system in place for all parties involved.”
[From a press release]