Tennessee State Bill to Address Music Industry Sexual Harassment Killed
A Tennessee state bill that would have offered protections to independent contractors in cases of sexual harassment, similar to the laws already in place for full-time employees, died in the Tennessee House of Representatives on Wednesday (March 14). The bill would have been helpful to the many music industry employees who are classified as contractors and currently have no protection or recourse when dealing with sexual harassment unless it is specifically written into their contracts.
Nashville Rep. Brenda Gilmore and Sen. Jeff Yarbro, both Democrats, filed HB 1984 / SB 2130 in the State of Tennessee's House of Representatives and Senate, respectively, pushing for the right of independent contractors to pursue legal action against entities under which they hold contracts in the event of sexual harassment. Many musicians, songwriters and other employees in the music industry are classified as contractors or work for small, independent companies that do not have the resources or human resource departments to protect employees in the event of harassment or discrimination.
The Nashville Scene reports that after SB 2130 was presented in the Tennessee State Senate on Tuesday (March 13) and amended due to concerns from the National Federation of the Independent Business, HB 1984 then faced opposition from Republican state representatives on the Consumer and Human Resources Subcommittee. The bill is now officially dead.
"The artists who make Nashville home and who make Nashville great deserve better," says Alex Little, an attorney who's represented musicians in cases of sexual harassment. "At the same time, the big-name artists who have a loud voice, and who could have pushed this bill towards passage, should be ashamed of their lack of action."
Gilmore and Yarbro's filing came at a pertinent moment, as more and more people in the entertainment industry are speaking out about the pervasive issue of sexual harassment, backed by the growing social awareness springing from the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements. In country music, Katie Armiger and Jana Kramer are among those who have shared their career experiences.
"Hollywood is standing up for its own," Little adds. "It's time Nashville did the same."