Proposed bill protects sexual harassment offenders, victims

Louisiana’s legislature presented a new bill reforming sexual harassment laws.

The new Senate Bill 369 has been included in Governor John Bel Edwards’ legislative package.

The bill focuses on keeping victims of sexual harassment confidential.

According to the present law under Senate 369, it recognizes the confidential nature of certain personnel records and provides certain exemptions to the Public Records Law.

Senate Bill 369 would keep any investigation involving sex discrimination confidential and hidden out of the public eye.

The bill is supposed to protect an alleged victim’s name from being released and the details of alleged harassment from being made public through a government records request, but it shields the harasser too.

As a result, the public will not be able to keep track of the rate or kind of misconducts going on in a public entity or government.

All public employees and elected officials would be required to partake in annual harassment prevention training.

“There are ways that you can keep the name of the victim private, but still release the information of people accused of the sexual harassment. So, if they really want to protect the victim, they can come up with a bill that focuses on the privacy of victim,” assistant political science professor Jessica Anderson said.

Due to the criticism the bill has received, after its release, the bill is still on the legislatures floor in discussion.

There is a high probability that the bill will be modified and will go into effect in August if passed.

The bill can affect ULM if the Louisiana Board of Regents makes changes on its policy about privacy.

“Though the university has its policy, there may be a scenario that the employee of the university is accused of harassment, and no one in the university will be informed except the victim if we look the case stated by the bill in context of our university,” Anderson said.

The university has Title IX which prohibits discrimination based off of sex.

“The bill actually doesn’t affect the way we work on sexual harassment cases. We do not disclose the information about harassment cases openly. If it is a crime scene, we report to the university police department. However, we do present our annual report of cases of sexual harassment from the university to the Police Department. The information is kept confidential between the two parties unless the involvement of third party is necessary. The bill will not have significant effect on the way university works on it,” Title IX coordinator Treina Landrum said.

Sexual harassment has caused many concerns in the nation amidst the #MeToo movement. 

This bill was created as a preventative method in response to overwhelming reports of sexual harassment in the workplace.