February 25, 2019

Media Advisory: Sexual harassment bills to be heard Wednesday

STATE HOUSE – The House Labor Committee will hold hearings Wednesday on a package of bills aimed at preventing workplace sexual harassment and discrimination.

The meeting is scheduled Wednesday, Feb. 27, at the rise of the House session (around 4:30 p.m.) in the House Lounge on the second floor of the State House.

The seven bills were all introduced by members of a legislative commission that studied the issue last year, led by Rep. Teresa Tanzi (D-Dist. 34, South Kingstown, Narragansett).

The bills include:
  • 2019-H 5345 - Sponsored by Representative Tanzi, this bill would forbid employers from requiring employees, as a condition of obtaining or retaining employment, to execute a nondisclosure agreement or non-disparagement agreement.
  • 2019-H 5342 - 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. 
  • 2019-H 5340 - 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.
  • 2019-H 5346 - Submitted by Representative Tanzi, this bill would expand and clarify the definition of “employees” for purposes of the fair employment practices chapter.
  • 2019-H 5341 - This bill sponsored by Representative Shanley would extend the timeframe within which to bring an action for an unlawful employment practice.
  • 2019-H 5343 - Introduced by Rep. Camille F.J. Vella-Wilkinson (D-Dist. 21, Warwick), this bill would mandate sexual harassment training for employees and supervisors in workplaces of 50 or more employees. It would also recommend an annual climate survey for employers.
  • 2019-H 5344 - This bill submitted by Representative Tanzi would prohibit employers, employment agencies, labor organizations, or employees, from directly or indirectly committing any act declared to be an unlawful employment practice, and would state that individuals, including individual employees, could be held personally liable for such conduct. (An identical bill, 2019-H 5361, sponsored by House Majority Whip John G. Edwards (D-Dist. 70, Tiverton, Portsmouth), is also scheduled to be heard.)