CREATE A TASK FORCE TO STUDY SEXUAL AND WORKPLACE HARASSMENT LAWS

SENATOR JOHN BLAKE

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COVER CONTRACTORS AND UNPAID INTERNS UNDER THE HUMANS RELATIONS ACT

SENATOR CHRISTINE TARTAGLIONE

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REQUIRE SEXUAL HARASSMENT TRAINING FOR LOBBYISTS

SENATOR JIM BREWSTER

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REQUIRE EMPLOYERS TO PROVIDE TRAINING TO EMPLOYEES AND TO INCLUDE UNPAID INTERNS IN THE DEFINITION OF EMPLOYEES, AND TO REQUIRE FAIR PRACTICE POSTINGS TO MENTION SEXUAL HARASSMENT

SENATOR JOHN SABATINA

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ADD SEXUAL ORIENTATION AND GENDER EXPRESSION OR IDENTITY TO THE LIST OF CLASSIFICATIONS PROTECTED UNDER THE PA HUMAN RELATIONS ACT

SENATOR LARRY FARNESE

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PROVIDE THE RIGHT TO A JURY TRIAL, PUNITIVE DAMAGES AND EXTENDED STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS UNDER THE WHISTLEBLOWER BILL

SENATOR ART HAYWOOD

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PROHIBIT NON-DISCLOSURE AGREEMENTS AS PART OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT SETTLEMENTS

SENATOR JUDY SCHWANK

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EXTEND PA HUMAN RELATIONS ACT COVERAGE TO DOMESTIC WORKERS

SENATOR ANTHONY H. WILLIAMS

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Harassment Prevention

The #MeToo Movement has shown us that sexual harassment in the workplace is far more expansive and complex than many of us realized. We are working with the Governor and the House to craft a comprehensive package that studies sexual harassment, prevents it in the future, and protects its victims in the meantime.

In this process, one recurring theme we have found is that our protections are not broad enough:

  • Sexual orientation and gender expression are not included in the classifications protected under the Human Relations Act
  • Contractors and unpaid interns are not covered under the Human Relations Act
  • Domestic workers are not covered under the Human Relations Act
  • Our package rectifies each of those qualifications
  • We also have a bill that expands the Human Relations Act coverage from four employees all the way down to one

Our package of bills is not just for private employers, and we are turning our gaze inward as well. Working at a place as complex and multi-layered as the State Capitol yields a difficult environment for oversight. More people work in the building than elected officials and state employees, so one of our bills requires sexual harassment training for lobbyists.

In an ideal world, these efforts would curb sexual harassment, but unfortunately we know that there will still be victims – and we must ensure that they feel comfortable reporting harassment when it happens and that our system guarantees their rights through the process

But we don’t have all the answers. We believe this is a good start and we’re proud of the work we’re presenting, but we think we can learn more. One of the bills in this package creates a task force to study our workforce and sexual harassment laws and offer recommendations.

Thank you for participating in this important conversation, and, as always, never hesitate to contact us with questions or feedback.

Share with Your Friends & Family

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Legislation

Senate Bill 149 − Chronic Runaway Children

SB 149 − This bill will provide for the assessment and counseling of chronic runaway children. According to the National Runaway Switchboard, over 2 million runaway and homeless youth live on the streets of America each day. One out of every seven children will run away before the age of 18. The chronic runaway group of children do not return home, but live in transitory housing such as shelters, friends’ apartments, and cheap hotels. They are usually on their own for their survival and are frequent victims of violence on the streets, including physical or sexual abuse. Each year approximately 5,000 runaway and homeless youth die from assault, illness, and suicide. This bill amends Title 42 (Judiciary) to define ‘chronic runaway child’ as one that runs away from home more than once in any month or at least three times in any year. It also directs DHS to develop specific assessment/counseling plans for chronic runaways as part of county shelter care, custody and detention programs approved by the Commonwealth.

Sponsor:  Boscola

Senate Bill 231 − Residency Restrictions for Registered Sex Offenders for Offense of a Minor

SB 231 − This legislation would establish certain residency requirements for sexual offenders that are required to register under Megan’s Law, and that are convicted of an offense in which the victim was a minor. The legislation would prohibit a sexual offender of a minor from establishing residency within 1000 ft. of any public, private or parochial school, pre-school program, certified day care center, registered family day care home, recreation center, or playground, and a minimum of 500 ft. from a school bus stop. The legislation also requires the Board of School Directors of any school which provides transportation to students to annually review the Megan’s Law website when establishing bus stop locations. If registrants are found to be living within 500 ft of a school bus stop and no other stop can be established within a reasonable distance, the school district must: notify each law enforcement agency with jurisdiction over the bus stop, notify each law enforcement agency with jurisdiction in the school district, notify the parents of any student who will be required to use the bus stop that the stop falls within 500 ft. of the resident of a registrant.

Sponsor:  Boscola

Senate Bill 232 − Removing the Statute of Limitations for Sexual Abuse of a Minor

SB 232 − This legislation which remove the statute of limitations for sexual abuse of a minor in criminal prosecution. In cases of sexual abuse of children, the victims sometimes do not come forward and report the crime for many years or even into their adulthood. Because of our current statute of limitations, authorities often are not able to file any charges. In effect, Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations serves to deny justice to the child victims and their families by not having accused sex offenders go through the judicial process within our Commonwealth and face their alleged charges.

Sponsor:  Boscola

Senate Bill 233 − Removing the Statute of Limitations for Sexual Abuse of a Minor

SB 233 − This legislation which remove the statute of limitations for sexual abuse of a minor in criminal prosecution. In cases of sexual abuse of children, the victims sometimes do not come forward and report the crime for many years or even into their adulthood. Because of our current statute of limitations, authorities often are not able to file any charges. In effect, Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations serves to deny justice to the child victims and their families by not having accused sex offenders go through the judicial process within our Commonwealth and face their alleged charges.

Sponsor:  Boscola

Senate Bill 398 − DNA Database Expansion (Katie’s Law)

SB 398− This legislation would require any individual arrested for a felony offense to provide a DNA sample to the state’s database. In New Mexico, this legislation is known as ‘Katie’s Law’ in honor of Katie Sepich, a graduate student who was brutally raped and murdered in 2003. The goal of this bill is simple: to catch offenders when they come into contact with the justice system, and prevent them from harming anyone else. DNA testing immensely helps to solve cold-case murders and other investigations statewide. DNA sampling is a minimally invasive process, and can be used to rule out suspects as well as solve cases. All 50 states require DNA testing for felony convictions. Additionally, at least 29 states have enacted legislation to require DNA from certain felony arrestees – while even more states are in the process of considering such laws.

Sponsor:  Boscola

Senate Bill 548 − Stolen Private Images

SB 548 − This legislation will strengthen Pennsylvania law against the unauthorized dissemination of private sexual and naked images. Pennsylvania has criminalized the non-consensual dissemination of images of a present or former sexual or intimate partner, so-called “revenge porn, ” but the theft and dissemination of images by a person with no intimate relationship to the victim, motivated by financial or other reasons, in addition to harassment, remains un-addressed. Typical violations include physically accessing and forwarding images from a victim’s computer, phone or similar device without permission, or hacking into them to do so. This legislation will apply to the same types of images protected by the current Intimate Images law (i.e. images containing nudity or a sexual act), and will treat violations the same as it with regard to both criminal grading for adult and minor victims and civil liability.

Sponsor:  Schwank

Senate Bill 547 − Dating and Sexual Violence Prevention Education

SB 547  This legislation would require schools to establish specific policies regarding dating violence, including reporting procedures for students, parents, legal guardians, or third parties; disciplinary procedures and penalties for students perpetrating dating violence against other students; and information regarding the Protection from Abuse law. Additionally, schools and districts would be required to post these policies on the school or district website, in every classroom where practical, and in at least one prominent location within a school. This bill would also require that post-secondary schools include in currently mandated sexual violence awareness programs information on how to obtain Protection from Abuse orders (PFAs).

Sponsor:  Schwank

Senate Bill 549 − Providing Financial Assistance to Domestic Violence Centers and Rape Crisis Centers

SB 549 − This legislation created a funding mechanism due to the public health and safety that is threatened by increasing incidences of domestic violence and rape. Domestic violence programs and rape crisis programs provide needed support services for victims and assist in prevention through community education. It is in the public interest for Pennsylvania to establish a mechanism to provide financial assistance to domestic violence centers and rape crisis centers for the operation of domestic violence and rape crisis programs.

Sponsor:  Schwank

Senate Bill 739 − Public Pension Forfeiture for Megan’s Law Offenses

SB 739 − This legislation amends the Public Employee Pension Forfeiture Act to prohibit public officials and employees convicted of or pleaded guilty or no contest to any offense against a minor requiring registration under Megan’s Law, 42 Pa.C.S. §9795.1, from collecting retirement benefits. The duty of public officials and employees to serve the best interests of the citizens of Pennsylvania is of the utmost importance and that duty is obliterated when a crime requiring registration under Megan’s Law is committed. Therefore, it is imperative that offenders who commit these types of crimes are not afforded the same benefits as public servants who abide by the law.

Sponsor:  Farnese

Senate Bill 872 − It’s On Us – Anti-Violence/Anti-Bullying Policies in Schools

SB 872 − This bill will provide much-needed resources and support to school districts and colleges while working to ensure that Pennsylvania’s schools are free from violence of all kinds, including bullying, harassment, and dating violence. Particularly, this legislation deals with violence in a school setting, and provides clear definitions of each aspect of school violence. This bill will establish procedures for school entities to keep records of reports and investigations of violence. Additionally, reports made by students will be confidential and investigated promptly. School entities will provide professional development and education on issues related to violence and promote compliance with all applicable federal and state requirements around the prevention of sexual violence. To increase transparency, schools will be required to report the number of alleged acts of violence to the Department of Education.

Sponsor:  Haywood

Senate Bill 870 − “It’s on us” Initiative – Expanding the office of Safe Schools to Post Secondary Institutions

SB 870 − This is legislation expanding Pennsylvania’s Office of Safe Schools beyond their current K-12 responsibilities to cover postsecondary institutions, and monitor and enforce existing federal and state requirements related to sexual violence prevention and response. The Office of Safe Schools within the Department of Education currently coordinates school safety and security programs, collection of the annual school violence statistics, coordination of antiviolence efforts, and development of policies and strategies to combat school violence, while supporting and providing technical assistance and professional development programs to local school entities. This bill will expand their purview to allow them to provide their valuable services to Pennsylvania’s postsecondary institutions, provide policy development assistance, and promote compliance with all applicable federal and state requirements around the prevention of sexual violence.

Sponsor:  Hughes

Senate Bill 871 − It’s on Us – Institutional amnesty

SB 871 − This legislation will strengthen the ability to discover sexual or domestic violence at postsecondary schools in Pennsylvania and to enforce protections against them. This proposal would require all public, state-related and independent institutions of higher education in Pennsylvania to specifically provide amnesty under their disciplinary policies for violations of drug or alcohol restrictions by a victim or other witness that are disclosed in the course of good faith reporting by the victim or witness of an assault or stalking incident. Most such incidents go unreported, even to victim support agencies. Concern that reporting an incident could lead to sanctions on the reporting victim or witness if as a result they admit to policy violations needlessly aggravates under-reporting.

Sponsor:  Schwank

Senate Bill 919 − Relocation for Domestic and Sexual Violence Victims in Public Housing

SB 919 − This legislation amends the Housing Authorities Law to allow a victim of domestic or sexual violence to be relocated. This bill was developed with input from the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, and the Pennsylvania Housing Alliance. The bill allows a tenant of a county housing authority who is a victim of domestic or sexual violence to be relocated to another apartment under the control of the county housing authority or in another county housing authority, or otherwise receive help finding housing or receive a referral to local victim advocacy organizations for housing assistance. Tenants would be required to certify to a housing authority that they are the victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. A tenant may be eligible to receive assistance whether the domestic or sexual violence occurred in the housing unit or whether the tenant otherwise reasonably believes he or she is threatened with imminent harm from violence if the tenant remains in the unit. The county housing authority would have five days to approve a request for relocation. Then it would have 30 days to relocate the individual and other members of their household, give the tenant a Housing Choice Voucher, or refer the tenant to victim assistance organizations. The county housing authority would be prohibited, absent a court order, from releasing the new address of the tenant or other information about their relocation. Domestic and sexual violence is an ongoing plague in our communities. Last year, the 60 community centers providing services throughout the Commonwealth assisted almost 90,000 victims of domestic and sexual violence.

Sponsor:  Haywood

Senate Bill 999 − Prohibiting Non-Disclosure Agreements

SB 999 − This is legislation prohibiting non-disclosure agreements (NDA’s) within contracts or secret out-of-court settlements related to sexual harassment or sexual misconduct. Sexual harassment and misconduct swept under the rug by way of the use of NDA’s and out-of-court settlements. These agreements allow serial predators to continue abusing employees, clients, and contractors, sometimes over decades. Victims of sexual harassment often find themselves pressured by the expense and length of court battles into signing agreements that do not protect the public interest and can enable predators.

Sponsor:  Schwank

Senate Bill 1023 − Limiting Parole Re-Application for Sexually Violent Predators

SB 1023 − This legislation provides an additional provision for the consideration of parole applications by an inmate deemed to be a Sexually Violent Predator (SVP). The intent is to mitigate the revictimization survivors face within the Commonwealth’s current parole system. This bill will provide that the Pennsylvania Parole Board shall not be required to consider, nor to dispose of an application by an inmate or an inmate’s attorney in the case of an inmate if a parole decision has been issued by the board within three years of the date of the current application for parole. Under current law Sexually Violent Predators are given the ability to apply for parole one year after their most recent application, following their minimum sentence date. Survivors must relive the crimes committed against them, every year their attacker applies for parole, in order to provide opposition testimony.

Sponsor:  Sabatina

Senate Resolution 57 − Campus Sexual Assault Study

SR 57 − This is a resolution directing the Joint State Government Commission to conduct a study into incidents of sexual assault on post-secondary campuses and to make recommendations for policy and statutory changes needed to decrease the risks of assault and injury and increase safety for students, staff and visitors to campuses. The resolution will provide for a committee of up to 20 representatives from schools, law enforcement, victim resource programs and agencies, and students to assist the commission in studying and analyzing the nature and extent of sexual assault on post-secondary campuses in Pennsylvania, the nature and effectiveness of sexual assault education and prevention programs here, the accuracy and use of reporting data and the response by officials and others to reports of assaults, and the effectiveness of statutory or regulatory mandates and programs.

Sponsor:  Schwank

Senate Resolution 77 − Sexual Assault Awareness Month

SR 77 − This is a resolution declaring April 2017 as Sexual Assault Awareness Month in Pennsylvania. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, one in 5 women and one in 33 men will be raped during their lives. Further, children between the ages of 12 and 17 are 2.5 times more likely to be victims of rape or sexual assault. It is imperative that we recognize the strength, courage, and challenges faced by victims and survivors of sexual violence. It is important for all Pennsylvanians to learn about and understand this serious issue, so that they may speak out against sexual violence and stand up for the safety and well-being of others throughout Pennsylvania.

Sponsor:  Tartaglione

Senate Resolution 299 − Designating April 2018 as Sexual Assault Awareness Month in Pennsylvania

SR 299 − A resolution designating April 2018 as Sexual Assault Awareness Month in Pennsylvania.

Sexual assault is a social and public health epidemic in the United States. Every day in America, women, children, and men are affected by sexual violence regardless of their cultural heritage or economic background. These experiences induce life-changing misery for survivors and are devastating for their loved ones. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, one in five women and one in 71 men will be the victim of an attempted, or completed, rape or sexual assault sometime during their lives. Furthermore, one in four girls and one in six boys are likely to be victims of sexual violence. Survivors of sexual assault exhibit undaunted courage in the midst of the challenges they face, and eliminating the scourge of sexual violence is of paramount importance.

Sponsor:  Tartaglione

Latest News

Farnese Calls for Action on Anti-Discrimination Legislation

Philadelphia –April 5, 2018 – Sen. Larry Farnese (D-Philadelphia) joined Governor Tom Wolf and lawmakers from both the Pennsylvania Senate and House of Representatives for a news conference today to discuss legislation to combat sexual harassment. Farnese’s...

Tartaglione’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month Resolution Passes PA Senate Unanimously

HARRISBURG, PA, March 29, 2018 – The Pennsylvania Senate unanimously passed a resolution authored by Sen. Christine Tartaglione this week declaring April 2018 as Sexual Assault Awareness Month throughout the Commonwealth. In her March 26 remarks from the Senate floor, Tartaglione described sexual assault and violence as a “pervasive epidemic that affects all of us.”

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Resources

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Understanding Sexual Violence

SEXUAL VIOLENCE HAPPENS IN EVERY COMMUNITY

How you understand and talk about it matters. Become an agent for change by using your voice to shift how others think about and react to this critical issue.

What is sexual violence?

  • Sexual violence is any type of unwanted sexual contact – including sexual assault and rape.
  • This can include words and actions like sexual harassment, catcalling, and nonconsensual sharing of private images such as “revenge porn.”

Sexual violence impacts everyone

  • Nearly 1 in 5 women and 1 in 67 men in the U.S. have experienced rape or attempted rape some time in their lives (Smith et al., 2017).
  • Anyone can experience sexual violence, including children, teens, adults, and seniors.

Victims often know the person who Sexually assaulted them

  • People who sexually abuse can be family members, friends, romantic partners, or other trusted individuals.
  • They may use coercion, manipulation, threats, or force to commit sexual violence.

Victims are never to blame

  • It doesn’t matter what someone was wearing, how they were acting, if they were drinking, or what type of relationship they had with the person who abused them

Sexual assault is often not reported

  • A person may not report what happened for many reasons, including:
    • Concern they won’t be believed
    • Fear of retaliation
    • Distrust of law enforcement
    • Shame or fear of being blamed
    • Pressure from others

healing and justice look different for every survivor

  • A survivor may or may not choose to move forward with the criminal justice system.
  • Healing is an ongoing process. Everyone heals in their own time and their own way.

You can support survivors

  • Chances are you know someone who has experienced sexual violence even if they haven’t told you.
  • They are listening to how you talk about the issue, and hearing that you understand and believe survivors may help them feel safe.

embrace your voice

  • Sexual violence thrives when it is not taken seriously and victim blaming goes unchecked.
  • Your voice is essential in setting the record straight on sexual violence.

Smith, S. G., Chen, J., Basile, K. C., Gilbert, L. K., Merrick, M. T., Patel, N., … Jain, A. (2017). The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS): 2010-2012 state report. Retrieved from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control: https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/NISVS-StateReportBook.pdf