Amore Calls for Immediate Action on Sexual Harassment Bills to Start 2019 Session
Tuesday, November 13, 2018
“Laws and protections need to be updated to take into consideration the changing work environments. 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,” said Representative Amore.
The legislation is a result of the work by the House Commission to Study Sexual Harassment in the Workplace.
The commission is led by Chairwoman Teresa Tanzi and studied existing laws and identified areas of improvement that will have a positive impact on employees.
Amore added, "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. 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.”
Some of the bills proposed and introduced by the commission last session were:
- 2018-H 8281 — Submitted by Rep. Evan P. Shanley (D-Dist. 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 Rep. Carol Hagan McEntee (D-Dist. 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 Rep. Camille Vella-Wilkinson (D-Dist. 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 Rep. Aaron Regunberg (D-Dist. 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.
Sexual Harassment at the State House
Most recently areport by WPRI, claims that House Judiciary Chairman Rep. Cale Keable repeatedly sexually harassed Rep. Katherine Kazarian and that Speaker Nicholas Mattiello knew about this sexual harassment and, yet allowed Keable to remain as Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.
As GoLocalProv reported, in October 2017, Tanzi said there were numerous incidents of sexual harassment at the Rhode Island State House. At the time, the Rhode Island State Police and Attorney General Peter Kilmartin released a joint statement regarding State Representative Tanzi’s allegations of sexual harassment.
Tanzi said in a statement that she was harassed by a high ranking State House official and was told that sexual favors would help her bills go further.
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