City Council Pushes for Sexual Harassment Training for All City Workers

The decision (which voters will have to approve this May) comes on International Women’s Day.

blondell reynolds brown, sexual harassment training

Blondell Reynolds Brown | Photo by Jeff Fusco

Sexual harassment prevention training could soon be required for all Philadelphia city workers.

City Council passed a bill on Thursday – International Women’s Day – that could make training mandatory for all employees.

The measure was introduced in December by Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown as well as councilwomen Maria Quiñones Sánchez, Jannie Blackwell, Helen Gym, Cherelle Parker and Cindy Bass (in other words, all city councilwomen). They celebrated its passage on Thursday.

The measure won’t mandate sexual harassment prevention training on its own. Instead, it will allow voters to the opportunity to approve a City Charter change to do so, in the form of proposal on the May primary ballot. The “yes” or “no” question will read:

“Shall the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to provide for mandatory annual training for all City officers and employees regarding sexual harassment in the workplace?”

City employees are not currently required to undergo sexual harassment training. Instead, they typically receive sexual harassment training if their department supervisor requires it.

The bill’s passage comes amid Women’s Month and the #MeToo movement – both of which shed light on the serious and negative effects of sexual harassment, including anxiety, depression and, in some cases, post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as potential financial losses.

In February, Brown wrote about sexual harassment in an online post for Women Organized Against Rape, calling sexual harassment “a serious problem for the City of Philadelphia.”

“Over the last ten years, the city has paid out $326,500 to settle sexual harassment allegations from city employees,” Brown wrote. “… It’s more than time to start investigating how sexual harassment is handled by the city government. However, it’s crucial to work systematically to decrease instances of sexual harassment in the first place. Mandating annual sexual harassment training will move us towards this goal.”