Assemblymember Monica P. Wallace (D-Lancaster) announced that she helped pass the Assembly’s 2018-19 state budget proposal, which includes a number of policies to tackle sexual harassment.
“For far too long, sexual harassment victims have been left voiceless out of fear of retaliation,” Wallace said. “But in the wake of groundbreaking movements like #MeToo, now more than ever, we must come together and say enough is enough. We will not allow victims of sexual harassment to be silenced any longer.”
The Assembly budget proposal authorizes the state attorney general to prosecute criminal cases and defend civil cases for all protected classes and preserves a plaintiff’s right to confidentiality. It also allows a state or local government that has paid a victim on behalf of a public employee to recover payment from the employee responsible for the harassment. Further, it would require a neutral third-party arbitrator, ban mandatory arbitration agreements, void clauses in employment contracts that waive rights relating to discrimination claims and establish annual reporting requirements for employers related to discrimination.
The Assembly’s plan also directs the state Division of Human Rights to develop a publicly available model policy and requires all employers, employment agencies and licensing agencies to have a policy in place that meets the minimum standards established by the model policy. The Division of Human Rights would also be required to establish a 24-hour complaint hotline and develop informational materials for employers.
Wallace has been an outspoken advocate for strengthening the state’s sexual harassment policies. She recently hosted a roundtable with women from both the public and private sectors to discuss their experiences with sexual harassment as well as possible solutions to the issue. Wallace was also appointed to the Assembly’s Anti-Sexual Harassment Workgroup to examine sexual harassment issues and craft policies to deter harassment and improve work environments. Wallace, who ran for office with a commitment to enacting real reform after the previous two assemblymembers for her district left office amid sexual harassment and inappropriate conduct allegations, has continuously fought to give a voice to victims.