Pennsylvania legislation aimed at workplace harassment

Local

Democratic lawmakers introduced a package of bills last week. The goal: making Pennsylvania a safe place to work.

Supporters say these bills are past due. 

“Pennsylvanians deserve to go to work every day to put food on their tables and earn a decent living without being subjected to harassment or discrimination,” said Sen. Maria Collett (D-Bucks/Montgomery).

Which is why lawmakers introduced bills they hope will curb the problem of workplace harassment in Pennsylvania. 

“When sexual harassment and discrimination happen, it has a negative impact on everybody,” said Gov. Tom Wolf.

The bills would expand the Human Relations Act to cover contractors and unpaid interns, as well as add sexual orientation and gender expression or identity to the list of classifications protected under the act. Bills would also require employers to adopt written workplace harassment policies. 

“We should enact policies that encourage victims to speak up,” Wolf said.

“Mandates with regard to the types of policies that have to be provided is not helpful to small businesses,” said Rebecca Oyler, the legislative director of the National Federation of Independent Business.

Oyler worries that some of the bills, like requiring harassment policies or increasing liability, could hurt small businesses. She says fighting workplace harassment is something that could be done without government intervention.

“They’re going to do it because it’s the right thing to do, not because the state legislature is telling them to do something, but because it’s the right thing to do,” she said.

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