TRENTON – Acting to eliminate sexual harassment and age discrimination in the workplace, a Senate committee today approved a bill authored by Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg that would use the existing Law Against Discrimination to bar sexual harassment in employment, housing and public accommodations and fight age discrimination.
“Sexual harassment in the workplace has been a pervasive abuse that has gone unchecked for far too long,” said Senator Weinberg, the leading lawmaker on issues of sexual inequality, harassment and abuse. “The MeToo movement has increased awareness and has encouraged women to speak out about their experiences, but we need laws that help protect them in the workplace.”
The bill, S-3352, would extend the workplace protections to cover domestic workers, interns and independent contractors.
“These are some of the most vulnerable workers in society who have been powerless to defend themselves,” said Senator Weinberg. “They need to know they have the law on their side and that they won’t be left defenseless against abuse or harassment.”
The measure would also require employers to establish written workplace policies to prevent discrimination and harassment. The policies would explain the rules, procedures and remedies for any violations. All employers would be required to disseminate the required policies at least once a year and to each employee. The employers would also have to review the policies annually to ensure they are updated to comply with current law.
The policy would be required to be available in English, Spanish, and any language spoken by an employee who does not speak English as a primary language.
The bill also sets requirements for each employer with 50 or more employees to collect and report data on complaints of violations of the provisions of the bill.
The bill would also repeal the law that permits discrimination against workers over age 70, including those that force retirements. Exceptions would be allowed for judges, police officers and firefighters.
“An increasing number of people are staying in the workforce until later in life and they continue to make productive contributions,” said Senator Weinberg. “Against this backdrop, three in five older workers report seeing or experiencing age discrimination in the workplace, with women and Black workers reporting high rates of discrimination. We need to put an end to these unfair practices.”
The bill was approved by the Senate Labor Committee.