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House of Representatives
Session of 2013 - 2014 Regular Session


Posted: May 19, 2014 02:09 PM
From: Representative Michael H. Schlossberg
To: All House members
Subject: Human Relations Act: Sexual Harassment
In the near future, I will be introducing legislation to amend the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA) to extend the prohibition on sexual harassment to all employers in the state. Currently, it only affects employers with four or more employees. It is my sincere hope you will join me in this effort.

Unfortunately, sexual harassment continues to be a problem in workplaces across this country, affecting both men and women alike. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, roughly 12,000 reports of harassment are filed annually with the Commission, however the number of individuals who are actual victims of sexual harassment is probably much higher. For example, the results of one recent poll found that 70 percent of individuals who experienced sexual harassment in the workplace never reported it. This is likely because victims often worry about fear of employer retaliation, the reaction of co-workers, and the stigma many sexual harassment victims face.

Federal, state, and local laws prohibit sexual harassment in workplaces depending on the location and the size of the employer. Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act applies to employers with 15 or more employees, and the PHRA covers employers with at least four employees. However, sexual harassment is not a problem solely confined to larger companies. Currently, individuals employed at companies with fewer than four employees in this state have no legal recourse under anti-discrimination laws for sexual harassment, unless their local municipality has an ordinance in place. Philadelphia’s Fair Practices Ordinance, for instance, applies to employers with one or more employees. My legislation will ensure that all employees—even those who work for employers with less than four employees— are protected from discrimination based on sex in the workplace. This change in definition of employer will only apply to sexual harassment under PHRA.

This effort is intended to increase worker productivity and help provide a safe and comfortable working environment for thousands of Pennsylvanian workers. I invite all members to co-sponsor this important piece of legislation. This bill is part of the Pennsylvania Agenda for Women’s Health, a comprehensive proposal to address the real health issues affecting Pennsylvania women today.

Any questions about this proposal can be directed to my Legislative Assistant Geoff Brace (gbrace@pahouse.net).

Introduced as HB2300