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Indiana sexual harassment ruling challenged by new bill

Everyone deserves to feel safe in her or his place of work. Although it is true that not all employers and employees will get along, they have an obligation to treat each other fairly and with respect. However, many workers experience sexual harassment or other forms of abuse in the workplace. One such case in Indiana has recently seen a U.S. Supreme Court decision challenged by potential new legislation.

This legislation, named the Fair Employment Protection Act, affects how far the liability goes in a sexual harassment case. Under the new law, if a worker were harassed by any supervisor, the employer would share responsibility. This would include supervisors who may be in charge of the employee's work, but not able to hire or fire him or her or to take disciplinary action. In such cases, the current ruling currently limits the legal responsibility of the employer.

If this legislation passes, it will overturn a ruling made in a case involving Indiana's Ball State University. The new bill is supported by many national organizations, including several women’s rights groups and other organizations. The hope is that the new legislation encourage employers to take sexual harassment claims within their workplace more seriously.

If the new bill comes into effect, it will allow employers to be implicated in sexual harassment cases, giving them a greater incentive to help their employees resolve the situation.

The decision made in Indiana last year came into conflict with longstanding guidelines from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The discussion of this new legislation is a heartening step toward fairer resolutions to these situations. Unfair and abusive treatment should not be tolerated in the workplace or anywhere. Anyone subject to such treatment has the right to lodge a complaint and seek a just resolution to the situation.

Source: People's World, "Lawmakers unveil bill to hold employers responsible for supervisors’ sexual harassment," Mark Gruenberg, March 20, 2014

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