Indiana lawmaker working to close sexual harassment loopholes

An Indiana state representative who says that she was the victim of sexual harassment has introduced four bills aimed at holding state officials and lawmakers accountable for such behavior. Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon of Munster is one of the women who has accused Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill of inappropriate behavior. Another one of his accusers works in the Indiana Senate.

One of the bills would make lewd touching a felony instead of a misdemeanor if it involves things like drugging a victim, threatening or using deadly force or if the assailant is a state lawmaker or other office holder.

Another bill would create a special commission to investigate complaints involving certain elected officials. That commission would have the authority to remove them from office if they found sufficient evidence that they were guilty of sexual misconduct or criminal sexual behavior.

Rep. Reardon's third bill would prevent those holding a state office from using taxpayer money to pay their legal bills if they're sued or charged with a crime that isn't directly related to their job.

The fourth piece of legislation would impact employers and employees throughout Indiana -- not just those working in the state government. It would allow any employer -- even those with just one employee -- to be subject to workplace discrimination litigation. Currently, the law requires that an employer manage at least six people to be held legally accountable.

Although Rep. Reardon didn't address her allegations against the attorney general, says that she was motivated to take action after she found "many loopholes in a system that should protect women and men from having to face sexual harassment in the workplace."

It can be daunting to take action against any employer -- whether they're a powerful public figure or not. However, laws regarding sexual harassment in the workplace are increasingly becoming stronger. If you've been the victim of sexual harassment, it's essential to find out what your options are for seeking justice.

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