Peter DeFazio Introduces Legislation Addressing Sexual Assault and Harassment in Passenger Transportation
Today, House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Ranking Member Peter DeFazio (D-OR) introduced H.R. 5857, the “Stop Sexual Assault and Harassment in Transportation Act,” legislation that requires passenger airlines, commuter and intercity passenger railroads, transit agencies, operators of passenger vessels, and certain types of bus companies to prescribe formal policies on sexual assault and harassment of employees and passengers in transportation.
“The number-one goal in the transportation of people, whether it is across town or across an ocean, must be safety. Today, I introduced legislation to require transportation providers to develop formal policies to help prevent sexual assault and harassment in transportation and hold those who perpetrate these egregious acts accountable under all applicable laws. This legislation will help build a safer transportation system for all Americans,” DeFazio said.
Last year Americans took 10.1 billion trips on public transportation. According to a 2018 national study, 17 percent of all respondents experienced sexual harassment while using mass transportation.
On U.S. airlines alone, 68 percent of flight attendants say they have experienced sexual harassment during their careers.
The “Stop Sexual Assault and Harassment in Transportation Act” would require transportation providers to adopt a formal policy providing that sexual assault and harassment in transportation is unacceptable under any circumstance. These providers must prominently display, on their websites or otherwise, a statement that they have adopted such a policy as well as the procedures their passengers can follow for reporting incidents of sexual assault and harassment. The policy must facilitate the reporting of these incidents; establish procedures for employees to follow if such an incident is reported; and require all appropriate employees to be trained on the policy.
In addition, the bill increases the current civil penalty for interference with crewmembers in commercial aviation from $25,000 to $35,000 and creates a similar civil penalty to protect employees working in other modes of transportation. Finally, the bill requires the Secretary of Transportation to annually collect data on incidents of sexual assault and harassment and make this data publicly available.
Groups supporting H.R. 5857, the Stop Sexual Assault and Harassment in Transportation include the Transportation Trades Department, the Association of Flight Attendants, the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, and the Amalgamated Transit Union.