Sign the petition: It's on Congress to pass the BE HEARD in the Workplace Act

Tell Congress: Pass the BE HEARD in the Workplace Act

The petition to Congress reads:
"Stand up for workers' rights and support comprehensive legislation to curb harassment and sexual violence and end the legacy of racism in the workplace. Pass the BE HEARD in the Workplace Act."

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Dear 5849376,

Tell Congress: Pass the BE HEARD in the Workplace Act

Everyone deserves equality, safety and dignity at work.

The Bringing an End to Harassment by Enhancing Accountability and Rejecting Discrimination (BE HEARD) in the Workplace Act is model legislation that would make workplaces safer and more equitable for all.1

The BE HEARD Act disrupts our current wage and labor laws which disproportionately expose women and workers of color to sexual violence and harassment, racism and underpaid labor. Rep. Ayanna Pressley and three other Democratic women in the House of Representatives just introduced this important bill that's already gaining momentum. Will you add your support now?

Tell Congress: Stand up for workers' rights. Pass the BE HEARD in the Workplace Act. Click here to sign the petition.

The BE HEARD Act aims to eliminate sexual harassment and inequality in the workplace by expanding worker protections and requiring employers to pay their workers the full minimum wage.2 Tipped workers across the country – from restaurant workers to car washers – are only paid the subminimum wage of $2.13. This forces workers, especially women and people of color, to tolerate abusive behavior from customers, managers and coworkers – whether that's gender discrimination, sexual assault and harassment or blatant racism – in order to make a livable wage.

The restaurant industry is a hotbed for this kind of economic exploitation. Despite being the fastest-growing industry in the country and employing over 15.1 million workers, restaurant work is still one of the lowest-paying jobs in the country. Many workers rely on tips to survive, and women make up 70% of the industry's tipped workforce.3,4 Restaurant workers also experience poverty at three times the rate of workers overall and use food stamps at two times the rate of the U.S. workforce. Workers of color experience poverty at nearly twice the rate of white workers.5

This pay inequity exacerbates violence in the workplace. As high as 90% of women and 70% of men who work in the restaurant industry have reported some form of sexual harassment in the workplace.6 The BE HEARD Act would empower workers to report abusive behavior without concern that it would impact their income.

It would also end a remnant of slavery that continues the legacy of racial oppression and economic inequality along racial lines. Paying workers a subminimum wage is a practice that has been around since emancipation, when the restaurant industry demanded the right to hire newly freed slaves and pay them next to nothing.7 It's time that we abolish this legacy and give all workers a fair, livable wage.

Tell Congress: Stand up for workers' rights. Pass the BE HEARD in the Workplace Act. Click here to sign the petition.

In addition to requiring all employers to pay workers the full minimum wage, the BE HEARD Act would also:8

  • Expand civil rights protections and anti-discriminatory laws to apply to all working people, including full-time employees, independent contractors and interns.
  • Invest in research about the economic impact of workplace harassment and ensure that workers know their rights and learn how to identify harassment.
  • Put an end to mandatory arbitration and limit the use of non-disclosure agreements, which prevent workers from coming forward and holding perpetrators and businesses accountable.
  • Empower people who come forward with reports of harassment or retaliation to ensure they get support and a fair hearing.

It seems impossible to imagine that just as survivors are feeling safe speaking out and sharing their #MeToo stories, Congress could pass up an opportunity to stand with millions of working people to end the crisis of workplace harassment and sexual assault. Alongside our partners, UltraViolet and the Restaurant Opportunity Center, we hope to build a movement to make sure that Congress acts now.

Tell Congress: Stand with workers. Pass the BE HEARD Act. Click the link below to sign the petition:

Thanks for fighting back,

Thaís Marques, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets

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  1. Anne Branigin, "Time's Up for Abusers in the Workplace: Rep. Ayanna Pressley Introduces Sweeping Anti-Harassment Legislation," The Root, April 9, 2019.
  2. Anna North, "Democrats' sweeping new anti-harassment bill, explained," Vox, April 9, 2019.
  3. National Restaurant Association, "Restaurant Industry Facts at a Glance," accessed April 12, 2019.
  4. Rewards Network, "The State of Women in the Restaurant and Food Industry in 2017," Jan. 31, 2017.
  5. Teófilo Reyes, Chris Benner and Saru Jayaraman, "Ending Jim Crow in America's Restaurants: Racial and Gender Occupational Segregation in the Restaurant Industry," UC Berkeley Labor Center, Oct. 5, 2015.
  6. Stefanie K. Johnson and Juan M. Madera, "Sexual Harassment Is Pervasive in the Restaurant Industry. Here's What Needs to Change," Harvard Business Review, Jan. 18, 2018.
  7. Rachel E. Greenspan, "'It's the Legacy of Slavery': Here's the Troubling History Behind Tipping Practices in the U.S.," TIME, Oct. 15, 2018.
  8. Rep. Ayanna Pressley, "Pressley, Clark, Murray, Democrats—Joined by Workers, Survivors, and Advocates—Introduce Sweeping Legislation to Address Harassment in the Workplace," April 9, 2019.

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