House Science Committee Advances Combating Sexual Harassment in Science Act
House Science Committee Advances Combating Sexual Harassment in Science Act

June 2019

The House Science, Space, and Technology Committee passed the Combating Sexual Harassment in Science Act (HR 36) by voice vote on June 20. The bipartisan bill takes important steps in supporting research and data collection to address the causes and consequences of sexual and gender harassment in STEM. The legislation also incorporates many of the recommendations included in the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report Sexual Harassment of Women: Climate, Culture, and Consequences in Academic Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. AERA is an endorser of the legislation.

“Sexual harassment in the academic workplace has been far too prevalent for far too long and must be eliminated,” said AERA Executive Director Felice J. Levine. “We are thrilled to see the committee pass this legislation, which includes concrete, action-oriented steps directed at the pernicious problems so well identified in the recent National Academies consensus report. We look forward to the bill’s passage in the House.”

Prior to the vote, several amendments to HR 36 were introduced and adopted. The first, a manager’s amendment introduced by committee chair Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), incorporates feedback from the university communities and federal science agencies to clarify due process and privacy protections for victims and the accused. Her amendment also requires that grantees notify science agencies of the result of an investigation into an accusation of sexual or gender harassment.

Committee ranking member Frank Lucas (R-OK) introduced an amendment to clarify the trigger for reporting an allegation as one that “affects the ability of grant personnel or their trainees to carry out the activities of the grant.” Rep. Lizzie Fletcher (D-TX) introduced an amendment that would direct the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to develop policy guidance to reintegrate victims of sexual and gender harassment in their work.

The Senate companion legislation, S 1067, introduced by Senators Kamala Harris (D-CA), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) in April, has been referred to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.