Newark Unanimously Passes Sexual Harrassment Legislation
New Jersey’s largest city today passed a pivotal piece of legislation to add additional protections for public employees who are victims of sexual harassment.
The ordinance, which passed unanimously, is spearheaded by Central Ward Councilwoman and Mayoral candidate Gayle Chaneyfield-Jenkins. It prohibits sexual harassment of city employees by their fellow co-workers, management, union representatives, volunteers or vendors for the city.
“In the Me Too movement that has swept the country for the last year and half, the faces, to me, have not been representative of women of color, and so it became my desire and my passion to make sure that women of color, who are the most vulnerable, who would not have other options to seek recourse and just suffer in silence, to give them a voice.”
Deborah Salter is a community activist with the Shani Baraka women’s center.
“I see these women, I know these women, that’s literally my backyard, my mother’s house is across the street, and this is something that I’ve told them from when I became a part of that center, that we need to be for real and be serious of we’re going to be there, so this is an issue that’s near and dear to my heart. It has to happen, there’s no other way around it, because then again, what are we saying about our own mothers and aunts and cousins and sisters, and children.”
The legislation also creates an independent task force to investigate claims brought by Newark employees. The five-member panel will be appointed by the mayor and include a retired police officer from outside Newark, a clergy member, two members of the public (who do not work for the city or its semi-autonomous agencies), and a final member to be nominated by Rutgers University.