April 9 (UPI) -- Congressional Democrats on Tuesday called for civil rights protections for American workers, an end to the tipped wage and transparency in the workplace as part of sweeping legislation to end workplace harassment.
Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, along with Reps. Katherine Clark and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, Elissa Slotkin of Michigan, and Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, introduced the so-called Be HEARD Act during a news conference on Capitol Hill. It stands for Bringing an End to Harassment by Enhancing Accountability and Rejecting Discrimination in the the Workplace Act.
The key features of the act include legislation to invest in research about the impact of workplace harassment, an end to mandatory arbitration and pre-employment non-disclosure agreements, an expansion of civil rights protections, legal assistance for workers who come forward to report harassment, and an end to the tipped wage.
Murray said she was inspired to write the legislation in part because of reports of abuses of power in Hollywood and Congress.
"What we wanted to do was shine a spotlight on workers who were't in those headlines," she said. "We found that millions of workers are not protected under our civil rights laws.
"Millions of workers are not protected under our civil rights laws. Far too many are still silenced by mandatory disclosure agreements that prevent them from discussing sexual harassment and longstanding practices like the tipped wages that keep workers in certain industries especially vulnerable."
Also supporting the bill were a number of 2020 presidential contenders, including Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Kamala Harris of California, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.