House Passes 'Strongest Sexual Harassment' Protections in the Nation
Submitted by Nancy Smith on March 2, 2018 - 2:27am
Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes, congratulated the House Thursday for passing what he claims is "the strongest sexual harassment reforms (HB 7007) in the nation."
"Every person deserves to be treated with dignity and respect in the workplace," said Corcoran in a written statement. "The Florida House has a zero tolerance sexual harassment policy, which we proactively strengthened in 2016. Everyone will be held accountable for their actions. The Florida House is giving every single employee, lobbyist, guest, and elected official a choice: treat others with dignity and respect, or lose your job or your access to the House. It's that simple."
Said Rep. Jennifer Sullivan, R-Mount Dora, "I'm very proud of the legislation we just passed today. ... The culture of corruption and silence must come to an end and those who have treated others with the utmost disrespect must be held accountable."
Bill co-sponsor Kristin Jacobs, D-Coconut Creek, said, "This legislation is further proof that Republicans and Democrats, men and women, can work together toward the common goal of protecting others in the workplace. No person should be treated with indignity or disrespect ... and I sincerely thank Speaker Corcoran for his foresight and commitment to this issue."
House Bill 7007 does these things:
- Makes a single unwelcome sexual advance an actionable offense.
- Protects legislative members, employees, agency employees, public officers and lobbyists.
- Applies to state employees, legislative members, and lobbyists.
- Requires supervisors who observe or have direct knowledge of sexual harassment to respond promptly and initiate required actions.
- Ensures the confidentiality of witnesses and subjects of harassment.
- Written findings of an investigator may omit information that discloses the identity of the complainant and witnesses or is unnecessarily embarrassing.
- The written report, identities of complainant and witnesses, and all information in the record shall be confidential until probable cause is determined.
- Requires employees and public officer training.
- Employees will be required to sign and acknowledge having received such training, which will then be included in the employee's personnel file.
- Requires suspected criminal conduct be promptly reported to law enforcement.
- Prohibits false reporting and retaliation.
- Provides access to victim advocate services and reasonable employment accommodations.
- Requires employee climate surveys at least every two years by each employing agency.
Survey results are required to be distributed to employees and made publicly available.
A similar bill in the Senate never moved out of Sen. Dennis Baxley, R-Lady Lake's Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee. It leaves Sen. Lauren Book, D-Plantation, scrambling to find something else Baxley will approve.
“You want to be responsive to what's going in current events, for sure, but we've also made some mistakes sometimes being reactionary,” the Orlando Sentinel reported Baxley as saying. “My mindset was, I don't think this is ready yet. I think we need to have some time to absorb what should you actually require in a statute.”