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Press Releases - County Council

Montgomery Council Introduces Bill Sponsored by Councilmember Will Jawando Creating Greater Opportunity to Remedy Workplace Sexual Harassment

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, March 25, 2020

ROCKVILLE, MD., MARCH 24, 2020--Today, the Montgomery County Council introduced Bill 14-20, which defines the term “harassment” and the term “sexual harassment,” giving individuals a better remedy if confronted with workplace harassment.

Councilmember Will Jawando is the lead sponsor and Councilmember Nancy Navarro is the cosponsor. The goal of this bill is to ensure individuals have protections in place related to workplace harassment. Current case law has created an extremely high standard of “severe or pervasive” to prove harassment cases. In the absence of a codified definition for “harassment” or “sexual harassment,” current practice limits the ability to seek a remedy.

Over the last several years the “Me Too” movement has brought to light the pervasiveness of workplace sexual harassment. In 2018, NPR reported that a survey conducted by the nonprofit Stop Street Harassment found that “81 percent of women and 43 percent of men have experienced sexual harassment.”

Bill 14-20 requires that:

1) The term “harassment” in subsection (a) is defined as “include verbal, written, or physical conduct, regardless of whether the conduct would be considered sufficiently severe or pervasive under precedent applied to harassment claims”;
2) The term “sexual harassment” in subsection (a) is defined as “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal, written, or physical conduct of a sexual nature, whether or not the conduct would be considered sufficiently severe or pervasive under precedent applied to harassment claims.”

“It is long past due that we address a deficient standard related to the definitions of harassment and sexual harassment in our laws,” said Councilmember Jawando. “I think it is appropriate that this bill be introduced during Women’s History Month, as this is something that disproportionately affects women in the workplace. Sexual harassment is not just uncomfortable, it’s frightening and disturbing. This bill will make the workplace more professional for all.”

The Council staff report including Bill 14-20 can be viewed here.

Councilmember Jawando’s remarks at the bill’s introduction can be viewed here.

Release ID: 20-113
Media Contact: Cecily Thorne 240-777-7811