Nashville Legislators File Bill to Protect Music Industry (and Other) Independent Contractors From Sexual Harassment
Two Nashville legislators have filed a bill that would offer protections to independent contractors in cases of sexual harassment, similar to the laws already in place for full-time employees. Should the bill become a law, it would be a major windfall for 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.
The Nashville Scene reports that Nashville Rep. Brenda Gilmore and Sen. Jeff Yarbro, both Democrats, have 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.
"There's been significant reporting showing real problems with harassment in parts of the music industry, and it doesn't fit neatly into the way the law treats harassment in a traditional workplace," Yarbro tells the Scene. As of now, Tennessee's sexual harassment laws cover employees, but leave a loophole that precludes contract employees from protection; Yarbro adds, "Everyone has a right to be safe in the workplace, regardless of whether their job fits the formalities of the current law."
Gilmore and Yarbro's filing comes 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.