The primary policy passed this month is the Disclosing Sexual Harassment in the Workplace Act of 2018, which has two major components.
The first is that it addresses how harassment complaints against legislators are handled – meaning that no legislator is immune to a case filed against them.
The second is that it changes the way sexual harassment cases are reported. The new act will require workplaces with 50 or more employees to report select information to the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights, such as the number of harassment settlements made by an employer, or if an employer has paid multiple settlements to the same person.
“What we really need in the legislature is a cultural change, which is what we’re looking at across the country – changing the culture and improving it for women in the workplace,” said Ariana Kelly, a Maryland State Delegate.
An additional issue addressed in the wave of passed policies was inadequate feminine hygiene conditions in correctional facilities. Senator Susan Lee stated that women’s facilities were being largely ignored simply because there are more male penitentiaries, but this will not discourage activists from pushing for change.
“I think that there is a wave, and I think there’s a lot of attention that’s being paid now to women, period – whether that’s #MeToo, whether that’s Time’s Up,” said Monica Cooper, a former inmate and co-founder of advocacy group Maryland Justice Project. “So, it’s something that’s coming to a town near you.”
The sector of newly approved policies following #MeToo is one that has been brewing for decades. The time is precarious, but the message is clear: enough is enough. Women have endured years of being what feels like a second-class human. But we are all human – sex and gender do not negate that.
NYMM applauds legislators in Maryland for implementing real change!
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