House Bill 6 creates the Public Employee Sexual Violence Act, which will allow public employees who have suffered sexual violence in the workplace the ability to file a civil action against the perpetrator and the employee even if the applicable statute of limitations has run. Given recent events in a large state to our north, you have to wonder why this bill doesn’t have more sponsorship, but kudos to Representative Valerie Longhurst and Senator Tizzy Lockman for bring this bill forward, and hopefully it escapes the clutches of the House Administration Committee.
|House Bill 6 Sponsors||Yes Votes||No Votes|
|Current Status — House Administration 3/9/21|
This Act defines an employee as an individual employed within the State by an employer, and that employer is the State of Delaware or any political subdivision or board, department, commission, or school district thereof. It does not include the United States Federal government.
The Act defines “Sexual violence” means any of the following acts without the consent of the employee:
- An intentional touching of the anus, breast, buttocks or genitalia of another person even when covered by clothing.
- Causing or compelling a person to touch another person’s anus, breast, buttocks, or genitalia, even when covered by clothing, which touching, under the circumstances as viewed by a reasonable person, is intended to be sexual in nature.
- Oral contact with the genitalia of another person.
- Any act of physical union of the genitalia or anus of a person with the mouth, anus, or genitalia of another person. It occurs upon any penetration, however slight. Ejaculation is not required.
- The placement of any object inside the anus or vagina of another person.
- The placement of genitalia or any sexual device inside the mouth of another person.
- Threatening to engage in conduct likely to result in the commission of a sex act against another person.
- Suggesting, soliciting, requesting, commanding, importuning, or otherwise attempting to induce another person to have sexual contact or sexual intercourse knowingly that such action is likely to cause annoyance, offense, or alarm to the other person.
- The exposure of a person’s genitals to another person knowing such conduct is likely to cause affront or alarm to another person.
- Compels or induces another person to engage in any sexual act including contact, penetration or intercourse by means of instilling in another person a fear that, if such sexual act is not performed, the person or another will do any of the following: 1. Cause physical injury to the person or a family member; 2. Cause damage to property; 3. Accuse the person or a family member of a crime or cause criminal charges to be instituted against the person or a family member; 4. Expose a secret or publicize an asserted fact, whether true or false, intending to subject another person to hatred, contempt, or ridicule; 5. Perform any other act which is calculated to harm another regarding the person’s health, safety, business, career, financial condition, reputation, or person relationships.
- Interfering with another person’s work or actions by communicating sexually explicit remarks, letters or notes in person or by any electronic or digital means.
The Act basically establishes a one year amnesty period where an employee can bring an action. Here are the rules:
- For a period of 1 year following the effective date of this Act, an employee who was the victim of sexual violence by a supervisor while employed by an employer in this State, and who is barred from filing suit against the supervisor or employer by virtue of a former statute of limitations, shall be permitted to file those claims in the Superior Court by verified pleading that all of the following can be established:
- The employee was employed by employer at the time of the sexual violence by the supervisor.
- The sexual violence occurred in this State.
- The employee did not report the sexual violence or file an action or complaint against the supervisor or employer to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or the Delaware Department of Labor within the applicable statute of limitations because the employer or supervisor did any one of the following: a. Took or threatened to take a materially adverse action against the employee for reporting or making other employees aware of the sexual violence by the supervisor; b. Failed to conduct an investigation of the sexual violence when on notice of the sexual violence; c. Subjected the employee to unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or physical conduct of a sexual nature; d. Exposed or threatened to expose a secret or publicize an asserted fact, whether true or false, intending to subject the employee to hatred, contempt, ridicule, or disciplinary action by the employer.
- The sexual violence occurred no more than 25 years prior to the effective date of the Act.