Democratic Reps Sponsor Bills to Update Sexual Harassment Laws
Bills give victims more time to file complaints
LANSING – State Representatives Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit), Vicki Barnett (D-Farmington Hills) and Sarah Roberts (D-St. Clair Shores) today introduced a package of bills today to reform and update Michigan’s sexual harassment laws. The bills provide stronger confidentiality protection to victims and extend the statues of limitations for sexual harassment complaints.
“Most state agencies will not keep a harassment victim’s identity confidential which is unfair to the victim,” said Rep. Tlaib. “The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission will keep the victim’s name confidential, and I believe that we need to follow their lead. Failing to do this re-victimizes a person who has been sexually harassed.”
The three-bill package will require that the when a victim requests confidentiality his or her identity will be exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act. The second bill will amend Michigan’s statue of limitations for filing an administrative complaint alleging sexual harassment with the Michigan Department of Civil Rights from 180 days to one year from the date of the harassment. The third bill will amend the Michigan statute of limitations for filing an independent lawsuit for a tort claim from three years to six years.
“Sexual harassment victims now have about six months to file a claim, which I don’t believe takes into account the seriousness of this crime and the effect that it can have on a victim,” said Roberts. “I think that giving victims a one year window to file claims will encourage more victims to come forward. Six months isn’t much time for a person to come to grips with what has happened and then to build up the courage to come forward and confront their harasser, who may be a colleague or even a boss.”
“Extending the time a person has to file an independent lawsuit will also encourage victims to come forward,” said Barnett, the sponsor of the third bill in the package. “The best way to stop this crime is to prosecute it vigorously so that people know what the crime is and know that it will be taken seriously and prosecuted to the full extent of the law. My bill will send the message to victims that we are serious in this state about using our laws to stop sexual harassment.”
“All of these bills offer important protections from retaliation and further harassment by offering confidentiality and the assurance that victims will have the time and support they need to come forward,” said Tlaib. “I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to see our bills passed and signed into law by the end of session in December.”
“Over the past year, we have experienced just how difficult it is for victims of sexual violence to come forward because of a lack of protection. For many, by the time they gather the courage to speak up, the statute of limitations has run out. We need to do more to ensure that these victims’ rights don’t run out before they are able to say or do something about it,”said Rana Abbas, of the Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Harassment (CASAH)