Critics blast Senate harassment bill as soft on lawmakers

Maya Raghu, senior counsel at the nonprofit National Women’s Law Center, said in an interview that she has “serious concerns” about the Senate bill weakening parts of the House-passed version.

The Senate bill’s specific definition of “unwelcome harassment,” Raghu warned, risks creating an inadvertent statutory distinction between “welcome” and “unwelcome harassment.” “Harassment, by definition, is unwelcome conduct,” she said. Raghu added that the Senate bill’s definition of harassment risks solidifying a new standard for a definition of sexual misconduct that’s already being narrowed by the courts. “So many cases get thrown out in the early stages because of the way this standard has been read,” Raghu said. “We have significant concern that, by codifying that standard in this law, that’s going to have consequences for hostile work environment claims.”