News Releases

Senator Murray introduced the BE HEARD Act, an ambitious bill to prevent and address workplace harassment of all kinds, strengthen and expand key protections to all workers, and support workers in seeking accountability and justice 

Senator Murray was joined by Congresswomen Katherine Clark (D-MA-5), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA-7), and survivors and advocates to discuss the highlights of the bill 

Additionally, two workers from Washington state shared their personal experiences surviving workplace assault and harassment 

Bill follows up on findings from Senator Murray’s oversight report spotlighting harassment across industries from Hollywood, to Congress, board rooms, restaurants, manufacturing floors, farm fields, and more 

Senator Murray: “No matter who you are or where you work—whether you are the only woman on the board, or a janitor, or farm worker, you should be treated fairly, respectfully, and with dignity” 

***WATCH VIDEO OF THE NEWS CONFERENCE HERE***

(Washington, D.C.)  – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), top Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, was joined by Congresswoman Katherine Clark (D-MA-5), Vice Chair of the House Democratic Caucus, and Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (D-MA-7), to introduce the Bringing an End to Harassment by Enhancing Accountability and Rejecting Discrimination (Be HEARD) in the Workplace Act, legislation which takes critical steps to ensure businesses have more resources to prevent harassment and workers have more support when they seek accountability and justice, and sends a clear message to those who think they can get away with assault or harassment on the job: time is up.

Senator Murray announced the introduction at a news conference with survivors and advocates who shared their personal stories about workplace assault and harassment, including Adriana Cazorla, a Washington state domestic worker and advocate with National Domestic Workers’ Alliance, and Maria del Carmen Ruelas, farm worker with Justice for Migrant Women Advocates who also resides in Washington state. Additionally, leaders from the National Women's Law Center (NWLC), The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) participated and highlighted the urgent need to pass the legislation.

No matter who you are or where you work—whether you are the only woman on the board, or a janitor, or farm worker, you should be treated fairly, respectfully, and with dignity. This should be true no matter your gender or race, your religion or sexual orientation or age—and regardless of whether you have a disability or are a veteran.” said Senator Murray. “For far too long and for far too many people in our country this hasn’t been true. So today, I’m proud to be standing up to fight for change and make clear that time is up.”

The Be HEARD Act will:

  • Strengthen understanding of workplace harassment and help businesses prevent it: The Be HEARD Act invests in research about the economic impact of workplace harassment, requires regular reporting on the prevalence of workplace harassment, and ensures that workers have access to more information and training about what constitutes harassment and their rights if they are harassed. 
  • Help ensure transparency: The Be HEARD Act puts an end to mandatory arbitration and pre-employment non-disclosure agreements, which prevent workers from coming forward and holding perpetrators and businesses accountable.
  • Broaden and expand civil rights protections to all workers: The Be HEARD Act builds on and strengthens existing civil rights laws by expanding protections for workers, while also safeguarding existing antidiscrimination laws and protections. It strengthens civil rights protections for all workers and makes clear that the Civil Rights Act protects against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the context of workplace discrimination. It also ensures that no matter where you work—and whether you are an independent contractor or an intern—your rights are protected.
  • Empower workers who come forward with reports of harassment or retaliation to ensure they get support: The Be HEARD Act allows workers more time to report harassment, authorizes grants to support legal assistance for workers who have low incomes, invests in delivering more resources to the state level to help workers ensure their rights are protected, and lifts the cap on damages when workers pursue legal action and win their cases.
  • Eliminate the tipped wage: The Be HEARD Act eliminates the tipped minimum wage, because tipped workers are disproportionately vulnerable to sexual harassment and discrimination by both clients and supervisors.

In addition to Senator Murray, the Senate bill is co-sponsored by U.S. Senators Kamala Harris (D-CA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Bob Casey (D-PA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Ed Markey (D-MA), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL). The House bill is being introduced by Congresswoman Katherine Clark (D-MA-5), Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (D-MA-7), Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin (D-MI-8), and Congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-FL-26).

Watch the full press conference announcing the Be HEARD Act HERE.

Senator Murray’s full opening remarks, as prepared for delivery:

“Thank you all for being here.

“There are so many incredible workers and advocates I’d like to recognize today—but I want to start with Venorica, Jennifer, Adriana, and Maria, who you will hear from in just a few minutes.

“We’re seeing progress because you and millions of others decided to step up and demand it. So thank you.

“When we started work on the Be HEARD Act, we’d heard a lot about abuses of power in Hollywood and in Congress.

“What we wanted to do was shine a spotlight on workers who weren’t in those headlines.

“We found that millions of workers are not protected under our civil rights laws.

“Far too many are still silenced by mandatory non-disclosure agreements that prevent them from discussing harassment.

“And longstanding practices like the tipped wage keep workers in certain industries especially vulnerable.

“As you’ll hear today, the Be HEARD Act would take strong new steps to address all of this and more.

“It would establish new, clear standards to strengthen prevention in workplaces nationwide, empower workers to come forward by providing new resources and support, and safeguard existing antidiscrimination laws while expanding protections, to make it clear that all workers are protected under our civil rights laws.

“This is all based on a very straightforward principle: no matter who you are or where you work—whether you are the only woman on the board, or a janitor, or farm worker, you should be treated fairly, respectfully, and with dignity.

“This should be true no matter your gender or race, your religion or sexual orientation or age—and regardless of whether you have a disability or are a veteran.

“But as we all know—as any of the brave workers here today will tell you—it hasn’t been true, for far too long and for far too many people in our country.

“It is well past time this changed—and I am so proud to be standing with all of you and making clear that time is up.

“Thank you and I’ll turn it over to Congresswoman Clark who is taking the lead on the Be HEARD Act in the House.”