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Senate Co-Sponsorship Memoranda

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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: December 5, 2018 02:07 PM
From: Senator Anthony H. Williams
To: All Senate members
Subject: Protecting Domestic Workers
In the near future, I will be introducing legislation to protect domestic workers from discrimination and workplace sexual harassment under the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act of 1955. Under current law, domestic workers employed in a home or personal residence are exempted from these critical protections which cover the majority of working Pennsylvanians. Domestic workers care for other people’s homes, children, and loved ones, often spending more time with their employers than with their own families. Having a personal connection with this profession – both of my grandmothers were employed as housekeepers – I understand the nature of the work and the opportunity for abuse which exists.

This legislation is part of a multi-bill package intended to address the all-too-common workplace harassment employees face in the Commonwealth and nationally. The #MeToo movement has provided victims the opportunity to bring their stories forward and educate the public on the pervasiveness of this issue. Now is the time to turn this momentum into action to foster safe, equitable, and accountable workplaces where jobs and promotions are not leveraged for sexual favors or where people are shamed for their background or identity.

Given the rapidly changing attitudes toward workplace sexual harassment, and that the Human Relations Commission’s Guidelines on Sexual Harassment state plainly that “harassment on the basis of sex is a violation of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act,” it is well beyond time that domestic workers are covered by the protections of the PHRA. My legislation will remove the current exception for domestic service under the definition of employee, ensuring that professional housekeepers and caretakers of children and the sick who are employed at personal residences are protected from discrimination and harassment.

I hope you will join me in co-sponsoring this important legislation.

Introduced as SB53