National

Norton Floats Bill to Combat Sexual Harassment

D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) has reintroduced a bill to create a national commission on combating sexual harassment in all the nation’s major industries and workplaces in the wake of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s recent resignation amid such allegations.

Norton’s office said the commission would report to Congress on recommended changes in law or regulations and is modeled on legislation Congress enacted to combat other national problems. Specifically, the commission would recommend best practices for preventing, training on, investigating, responding to and punishing sexual harassment in the private and public sectors.

Norton, the first woman to chair the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), issued the first federal guidelines holding sexual harassment to be a violation of equal employment laws, later upheld by the Supreme Court.

“Sexual harassment is a pervasive problem that impacts every part of our society,” Norton said in a statement. “In the last few years, the country has made tremendous strides in calling out and confronting sexual harassment. However, unlike the high-profile cases such as Governor Cuomo and even Congress itself, this commission would focus on the average American worker.

“Discrimination and the hierarchy of power in the workplace mean that men still hold positions that enable them to take advantage of female subordinates or ignore them,” Norton added. “A national commission would help expose pervasive sexual harassment in private sector workplaces to focus on what the average worker experiences. Importantly, a national commission would not have to wait for workers to take the risk of coming forward but would be charged with taking affirmative steps to look at workplaces that receive too little attention in our country today.”

Congress has created similar national commissions in other topics such as gambling, preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and terrorism, Norton’s office said.

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