Civil Rights and Women’s Rights Advocates: Congress Must Enact Meaningful Workplace Harassment Protections

(Washington, D.C.) The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), and more than 30 organizations released a call for urging legislative action to address and eliminate workplace harassment and discrimination. In a set of principles and priorities, the organizations provide guidance to lawmakers to enact meaningful and substantial reforms that will ensure the safety and dignity of workers across industries.

“Congress must address the power imbalance between employers and employees that has resulted in secrecy and lack of accountability, enabling widespread sexual and other forms of harassment to continue in our workplaces, too often leaving only the survivor to suffer the consequences,” said Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

“Sexual harassment is alive and thriving in every industry,” said Emily Martin, NWLC Vice President for Education & Workplace Justice. “Women around the country are depending on Congress to provide meaningful protections and remedies. It’s unacceptable that millions of working people in small companies and millions of independent contractors lack legal protections against harassment on the job, and that courts have denied legal remedies to individuals who have experienced harassment that has profoundly altered their lives. A year after #MeToo went viral, Congress must deliver concrete solutions to the many women and men who have bravely shared their stories and demanded justice.”   

“Congress must engage in the national conversation about the causes and consequences of workplace harassment of all kinds, and lead the way forward with meaningful policy change,” said Faiz Shakir, ACLU National Political Director. “These principles and priorities provide a detailed roadmap for that progress. It’s time for Congress to act and translate the momentum of the #MeToo movement into lasting change.”

Among the principles, advocates argue that:

  1. Existing civil rights protections must be strengthened, and we will not accept a single step backward.
  2. Reforms must address all forms of discrimination and harassment, not only sexual harassment.
  3. Reforms must expand legal protections against harassment and discrimination to all working people.
  4. Reforms must restore power to working people and limit employer-imposed secrecy.
  5. Reforms must remove barriers to accessing justice.
  6. Reforms must  strengthen existing protections against retaliation.
  7. Reforms must promote prevention.
  8. Reforms must be accompanied by greater resource allocations to enforcement agencies.

The full principles and priorities guide can be found here.

Participating organizations include:

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights


National Women’s Law Center


A Better Balance

Alianza Nacional de Campesinas

American Association of University Women

American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME)

Autistic Self Advocacy Network

Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law

Center for American Progress

Center for Public Representation

Equal Pay Today

Equal Rights Advocates

Feminist Majority

Futures Without Violence

Gender Justice

Human Rights Campaign


National Alliance to End Sexual Violence

National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities

National Council of Jewish Women

National Domestic Workers Alliance

National Employment Law Project

National Employment Lawyers Association

National Organization for Women Foundation, Inc.

National Partnership for Women & Families

NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice



Southwest Women’s Law Center

Women Employed

Women’s Law Project

Working IDEAL


The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its member organizations, visit

For nearly 100 years, the ACLU has worked in courts, legislatures, and communities to protect the constitutional rights of all people. With a nationwide network of offices and millions of members and supporters, we take up the toughest civil liberties fights. Beyond one person, party, or side — we the people dare to create a more perfect union. Learn more at

The National Women’s Law Center is a non-profit organization that has been working since 1972 to advance and protect women’s equality and opportunity.  The Center focuses on major policy areas of importance to women and their families including economic security, education, employment and health, with special attention given to the concerns of low-income women.  For more information on the Center, visit:


For immediate release: October 15, 2018
Contact: Olympia Feil ([email protected]) or Maria Patrick ([email protected])