Sabadosa to bring resolution on sexual harassment to party convention

  • GAZETTE FILE PHOTO GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

  • The Massachusetts Statehouse in Boston.  AP PHOTO/ELISE AMENDOLA

Staff Writer
Published: 9/9/2019 10:47:11 PM

NORTHAMPTON — For state Rep. Lindsay Sabadosa, her resolution on sexual harassment at the Statehouse, which will be introduced at the Democrats’ state convention on Saturday, isn’t about any one individual or particular event.

“It’s intended to target a culture,” she said.

Sabadosa, D-Northampton, is proposing the resolution along with state Sen. Rebecca Rausch, D-Needham. Titled “Addressing Sexual Harassment on Beacon Hill,” it would have the party call on the Legislature to establish an independent commission to investigate sexual and identity-based harassment. It also expresses support for H.3572/S.1898, a bill introduced by the two lawmakers that would establish such a commission.

The resolution, which Rausch said Sabadosa took the lead on, will have a floor vote at Saturday’s convention. In order to get there, the resolution was passed by the party’s Resolutions Subcommittee, although Sabadosa noted that the vote was not unanimous.

Sabadosa said she herself has experienced sexual harassment on Beacon Hill.

“Sexual harassment occurs in the State House every single day,” Sabadosa said.

Currently, no hearing has been scheduled for either version of the earlier bill that was filed, although Sabadosa said she expects there would be a hearing this fall before the Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight, where both versions of the bill have been referred.

“The bill is an incredibly important bill,” Rausch said, describing it as “comprehensive.”

Rausch said everyone who works in the State House “deserves to be treated with respect.”

“We need to make a statement about this,” she said.

The bill is a re-filing of a bill introduced last legislative session by Sen. Jamie Eldridge, D-Acton. However, Rausch said that while that bill was focused on sexual harassment, the new bill includes other forms of harassment as well, covered under the term identity-based harassment.

The bill defines identity-based harassment as, “verbal or physical conduct designed to humiliate, threaten, intimidate, coerce, demean, or disparage an individual targeted because of the individual’s race, color, religion, national origin, sex, gender expression, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, age, genetic information, ancestry, or other aspect of a person’s identity, which conduct negatively interferes with an individual’s work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile, offensive, or otherwise untenable workplace environment.”

Sexual assault is also included under the umbrella of workplace harassment in the bill.

Rausch said that harassment compounds the diversity problem among Beacon Hill’s lawmakers.

“We’re not even at 30 percent women,” Rausch said of the Legislature. “It is predominantly white, it is predominantly male, it is predominantly straight.”

Sabadosa said sexual harassment has nothing to do with sex itself and that it “has everything to do with power and power dynamics.”

She said that advocates are often the victims of sexual harassment in the building and that it puts those affected in the position of not wanting to report it because they don’t want to kill a piece of legislation that a coalition is working on.

Sabadosa said that she is “fairly confident” the resolution will pass at Saturday’s party convention, which will be held in Springfield.

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.




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