Proposed Harassment Law Changes Up for Debate - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Proposed Harassment Law Changes Up for Debate

Elbridge Smith Elbridge Smith
Barry Taniguchi Barry Taniguchi

By: Mari-Ela David

A proposal to change Hawaii's sexual harassment laws is up for debate.

Critics say the amendments would make it harder for victims to report harassment in the workplace.

Those for and against the changes are presenting their testimonies right now before the Hawaii Civil Rights commission.

Here's what's up for change:

Right now in Hawaii, if a worker files a harassment complaint against a co-worker, such as a supervisor, the company is automatically liable.

Under the proposed changes, an employer would only be liable if the victim can prove that the company didn't do anything to protect its workers from harassment. 

Some critics say that is an extra step victims shouldn't have to take.     

"Women who make sexual harassment complaints are going to be shunned and booted out, and they won't report it," says Elbridge Smith, president, Employment Lawyers Association.

"Employers have some rights too and employers are trying their darnest not to be caught in a situation like that," says Barry Taniguchi, president, KTA Superstores.

Supporters say the proposed changes put Hawaii's laws in line with federal laws on harassment.

But critics say the federal laws are weaker than the one currently in place in Hawaii, which could discourage victims from reporting harassment.

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