COUNCIL COMMITTEE ON LAW AND GOVERNMENT HOLDS HEARING ON COUNCILWOMAN REYNOLDS BROWN’S SEXUAL HARASSMENT TRAINING LEGISLATION

In Blondell Reynolds Brown, Cherelle Parker, Cindy Bass, Council News, Helen Gym, Jannie Blackwell, Maria D. Quiñones-Sánchez by Blondell Reynolds-Brown

(PHILADELPHIA) February 13, 2018 – On Tuesday, February 13, 2018, Philadelphia City Council’s Committee on Law and Government held a public hearing regarding the women of City Council proposed bill that would mandate sexual harassment training for ALL City of Philadelphia employees.

Witnesses included: Jovida Hill, Executive Director of the Philadelphia Women’s Commission; Monica Marchetti-Brock, Director, Office of Labor Relations; Nolan Atkinson, Jr., Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer; Monique Howard, Executive Director, Women Organized Against Rape; Rupali Patel Shah, Attorney, Philadelphia United for Progress; Eric Meyer, Partner, Dilworth Paxon, LLC; Vanessa Fields, Philadelphia Chapter of the Coalition of Labor Union Women; Rebecca Rhynhart, Philadelphia City Controller.

In December 2017, Philadelphia Councilwomen Blondell Reynolds Brown, Jannie L. Blackwell, Maria Quiñones-Sánchez, Cherelle L. Parker, Cindy Bass and Helen Gym introduced a bill that would mandate sexual harassment training for all City of Philadelphia employees.

Currently, the City of Philadelphia, Office of Human Resources Sexual Harassment Policy states: It is the responsibility of each Appointing Authority to ensure that all supervisors receive the appropriate training to enforce this [Sexual Harassment] Policy.  Under the new bill: Mandatory annual training will be required for all exempt, non-exempt, civil service, City officers and employees regarding sexual harassment in the workplace. The administration may conclude for certain employees and departments that non-annual training is most appropriate and effective for the prevention of sexual harassment in the workplace. In these circumstances, sexual harassment training must be offered to those employees and departments at least once every three years.

“A work environment where employees feel safe is a productive and efficient workplace,” said City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart.  “I believe that seeking a charter change requiring sexual harassment training is an important step toward better protecting City works.”

“We are at a significant moment in time, fueled by the #MeToo phenomenon,” said Jovida Hill, Executive Director of the Philadelphia Commission for Women.  It is encouraging that this body and this proposed amendment to our Home Rule Charter is at the forefront of a cultural shift that recognizes that all workplace—public and private – should provide an environment where all people, no matter their race, ethnicity, gender or gender identity can thrive and perform to their fullest potential.”

Amber Hikes, Executive Director of the Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs says training of this kind is especially significant to the LGBTQ community because LGBTQ people experience sexual harassment at rates that far exceed their colleagues.

“Mandated sexual harassment training will provide city employees the education necessary to abate and eradicate this kind of behavior dehumanizing, direct examination of an already marginalized group,” said Hikes.  “LGBTQ employees deserve workplace environments where they can be a part of conversations with coworkers without their bodies and relationships becoming the topic of discussion.”

“We agree that providing anti-sexual harassment training is necessary as an effective means to prevention and providing employees with the knowledge and means to report a problem for prompt and effective resolution,” said Monica Marchetti-Brock, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Labor Relations.

“Women across the country are right. That time is up and #TimesUp,” added Councilwoman Reynolds Brown. “We will make certain to protect our little girls and young women that will shape our future from what so many of us have unrightfully endured.

“We together can work towards a world where all people #BelieveWomen, where perpetrators of harassment are prosecuted, and, most importantly, where fewer women have to live in fear of being harassed when they walk into work every day.”

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