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Workplace sexual harassment prevention bill introduced

It’s known as the Be HEARD Act, but its more formal name is the Bringing an End to Harassment by Enhancing Accountability and Rejecting Discrimination in the Workplace Act. The goal of the bill co-sponsored y Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin is to create federal protections against sexual harassment and retaliation in the workplace.

The bill would also create protections against sexual orientation-based discrimination and require employers to report sexual harassment.

The Be HEARD Act would also stop employers from demanding that employees agree to mandatory arbitration and sign pre-employment nondisclosure agreements. In addition, the measure would expand protections against retaliation by employers against employees who report sexual harassment or sexual orientation-based discrimination.

Be HEARD would also give workers more time in which to report workplace harassment.

The bill was introduced by Washington state Sen. Patty Murray, as well as Senators Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, Sherrod Brown, Bernie Sanders, Amy Klobuchar, Tammy Duckworth, Cory Booker, Dick Durbin, Bob Casey, Richard Blumenthal, Elizabeth Warren, Tim Kaine, Ed Markey, Ben Cardin, Chris Van Hollen, Jacky Rosen and Jeff Merkley. Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Elissa Slotkin, and Debbie Murcarsel-Powell and Katherine Clark also presented the measure in the House.

Murray said Be HEARD is needed to help the millions of employees not protected under current civil rights laws. “Far too many are still silenced by mandatory disclosure agreements that prevent them from discussing sexual harassment and longstanding practices like the tipped wages that keep workers in certain industries especially vulnerable," she said.

Those who are subjected to sexual harassment and retaliation can have legal recourse under federal and Wisconsin law. Speak with a Milwaukee employment law attorney about your legal options.

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