Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR) [official website] introduced a bill [text] on Thursday “to protect transportation personnel and passengers from sexual assault and harassment.”
The bill, known as the Stop Sexual Assault and Harassment in Transportation Act, would require that commercial airlines, railroads, ships, certain bus lines and other forms of “covered entities” have formal sexual assault and harassment policies in place, including training and protocol for filing and responding to reports.
The bill would also raise the penalty for Interference with Cabin or Flight Crew, an existing offense, from $25,000 to $35,000 and explicitly include sexual assault in the definition of “interference.”
The Department of Transportation would also be required to collect and publish data on a yearly basis regarding sexual assault and harassment on public transportation.
The bill is meant to protect transportation workers and passengers from sexual harassment or sexual assault from other passengers. DeFazio wrote [press release] that 17 percent of respondents to a national survey reported being sexually harassed on public transportation. On US airlines, 68 percent of flight attendants reported being sexually harassed at work.
“This legislation will help build a safer transportation system for all Americans,” said DeFazio.
On Wednesday the transportation company Uber ended [JURIST report] its previous policy of mandatory arbitration for sexual assault and harassment claims.