Federal Policy

Safety and Respect at Work Shouldn’t Stop at State Lines


Supporters gather at the BE HEARD Act Rally in Washington, D.C. in September 2019
Ingrid Vaca, an advocate with the National Domestic Workers Alliance, rallies supporters in favor of the BE HEARD Act in Washington, D.C. © Devan King/TIME'S UP Foundation

Here at TIME’S UP, we are fighting for change in the public and private sectors — and across our culture — to ensure safe, fair, and dignified work on all fronts. Central to making our vision a reality is fighting for real policy change at the federal level.

Fighting for equity at the federal level

From the Equal Pay Act of 1963 to Title VII, Title IX, and the Lily Ledbetter Act signed by President Obama, we’ve made steady progress in getting federal laws on our books to ensure people are treated equally at work.

But we have a long way to go and gaps in existing laws still remain. Women are still overrepresented in low-paying jobs, making it difficult for them to get ahead. They also take on a disproportionate share of caregiving responsibilities. And without adequate access to paid family and medical leave, women are more likely to be financially penalized — or face outright discrimination — over the course of their careers for caring for their families. Even in 2019, women are getting paid an average of 82 cents on the dollar compared to men, and women of color fare even worse.

While a number of states have recently passed equal pay legislation, we need additional federal action to make sure women are paid fairly and equally in every state. That’s why we’re fighting to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act.

This crucial legislation would prohibit employers from asking about salary history when hiring new employees — a tactic that has harmed women who are historically paid less than they deserve, as paycheck discrimination carries over from job to job. And if an employee is eligible for a promotion, they should be able to discuss their salary openly to make sure they aren’t being paid less due to their gender or race. But many employees are barred from discussing salaries because of common workplace policies that legally prevent any discussion of pay.

Women should be treated fairly at work. Period.

Fighting for safety at the federal level

TIME’S UP insists on safe workplaces for everyone. And we’re fighting for federal policies that reflect that vision.

But glaring gaps in federal law are leaving countless workers exposed to sexual harassment and abuse on the job. This is unacceptable.

Under federal law, people who work at small businesses, interns, and domestic workers aren’t protected from harassment and discrimination. At TIME’S UP, we firmly believe every person has the right to be safe from harassment on the job — no matter your income or job title.

The BE HEARD Act is one piece of federal legislation that would help fix this problem. It would guarantee basic workplace protections for millions of people in the United States, along with clarifying the standard working people have to meet to bring harassment claims to court.

Supporters gather at the BE HEARD Act Rally in Washington, D.C. in September 2019
Supporters gather at a rally in support of the BE HEARD Act in Washington, D.C. © Devan King/TIME'S UP Foundation

Another way women are made unsafe at work: forced arbitration, or the tactic employers use to force survivors to handle claims out of court and behind closed doors.

In forced arbitration, the deck is stacked against survivors — abusers and harassers can continue unabated and companies that permit harassment and abuse to continue are never really held to account. TIME’S UP is fighting to end this exploitative tactic by changing federal policy.

Supporters gather at the BE HEARD Act Rally in Washington, D.C. in September 2019
Rylinda Rhodes, a former Comcast employee, is fighting back against the sexual harassment and abuse she faced in the workplace. © Devan King/TIME'S UP Foundation

It’s hard enough for survivors to come forward. We don’t need mandatory arbitration clauses making it even harder for them to achieve justice when they do. TIME’S UP is combatting this abusive practice by supporting the FAIR Act, which would eliminate forced arbitration agreements in employment contracts in all 50 states.

The FAIR Act supports victims’ rights by giving power back to survivors: Under the FAIR Act, survivors have the right to have their case heard in open court if they choose.

We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us when it comes to making sure federal policies protect women at work. Ready to get to work? Join us.