Sexual harassment is a pervasive problem in too many workplaces in Washington, D.C. This type of discrimination can adversely affect individuals, their careers and their feelings of safety. Thus, lawmakers continue to explore ways of stopping harassment – or better, preventing it.
One recent solution is the passage of The Sexual Harassment Data Collection and Reporting Act.
What is this act?
This act, which the mayor recently signed, requires all D.C. government agencies to track information about sexual harassment complaints, including the number of claims:
- Employees reported
- Went through mediation for resolution
- The agency investigated
- Triggered disciplinary actions
- Were supported and unsupported
- Led to lawsuits
- Resulted in a financial settlement
Agencies must submit this information to the Office of Human Rights, which will prepare an annual report to the Council and Office of the Attorney General for each agency.
What will this accomplish?
The legislation is new, and there is no information regarding its efficacy yet. However, The Sexual Harassment Data Collection and Reporting Act aims to get a better, more accurate picture of sexual harassment claims and what – if anything – employers are doing about it.
These new requirements may improve awareness of sexual harassment issues in a business and motivate employers to address the matter adequately.
Too often, harassment victims file a report, but it doesn’t go anywhere. In some cases, an investigation is superficial or never happens; perpetrators may not receive any real consequence.
Thus, victims of harassment can be scared to go to work or unable to do their job. They can face a hostile work environment and could ultimately feel that they must quit when no one stops harassment or punishes perpetrators.
While there is no single solution that will eliminate sexual harassment against workers, this legislation can serve as a means of identifying agencies that are dealing with claims effectively or poorly. Perhaps this measure will protect individuals at government agencies across the District and their rights.