November 18, 2019

Chair DeFazio Introduces Legislation to Address Sexual Assault and Harassment in Passenger Transportation

Washington, DC- Today, Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-OR) introduced H.R. 5139 the “Stop Sexual Assault and Harassment in Transportation Act,” legislation to help track and prevent sexual assault and harassment from occurring in different modes of transportation.

This legislation aims to address incidents of sexual assault and harassment in multiple modes of transportation by requiring certain transportation carriers, including passenger airlines, commuter and intercity passenger railroads, transit agencies, operators of cruise ships, certain types of bus companies, and ridesharing companies to establish formal policies, training, and reporting structures regarding sexual assault and harassment. It also requires the Department of Transportation (DOT) to collect information on the number of sexual assault or harassment incidents reported by these entities and make this information publicly available.

“In transportation, the number one priority is safety. That means not only getting the traveling public to their destination safely, but also ensuring their safety throughout the trip,” said Chair DeFazio. “Unfortunately, sexual assault and harassment occurs all too often to the employees of transportation providers and individuals who are traveling, and more must be done to protect them. Today, I introduced legislation to require transportation providers to develop formal policies to help prevent sexual harassment and assault and help law enforcement hold those who perpetrate these egregious acts accountable. In addition, this legislation requires DOT to begin collecting reportable data on the number of sexual assault and harassment incidents on transportation systems. I look forward to this legislation passing through Committee and ultimately being signed into law because we need to build a safer transportation system for everyone.”

"It’s not enough to say sexual harassment and assault is wrong; we need concrete actions to stop it, respond with victim support, engage every stakeholder, set a clear tone of zero tolerance from leadership, and deter perpetrators with clear consequences for their actions. Chairman DeFazio is marching us forward with this bill to do just that in all forms of transportation. Flight Attendants approve! It’s a no brainer for every member of Congress who wants to protect their constituents in transportation to sign on and pass this legislation quickly," said Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, representing 50,000 Flight Attendants at 20 airlines.

Patrick Trueman, President of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) stated, “Alarmed by incidents of sexual assault and harassment occurring in public transportation—especially on airlines—NCOSE has long advocated for the transportation sector to do more to protect the travelling public. This bill makes it clear that #TimesUP for perpetrators of sexual assault and harassment who commit these crimes while utilizing forms of public transportation.”

“Sexual harassment and assault are unacceptable anywhere and under any circumstances. In aviation, where Flight Attendants are responsible for the safety of passengers, any type of sexual assault or harassment must be reported, and when appropriate, prosecuted. Passengers and crewmembers alike deserve this protection. We urge the prompt consideration and passage of this common-sense bill. Chairman DeFazio has been a longtime champion of the Flight Attendant profession and we deeply appreciate his action on this issue.” -Lori Bassani, Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) National President.

Last Congress, Chair DeFazio introduced a similar bill, H.R. 5857, the “Stop Sexual Assault and Harassment in Transportation Act.”

Original co-sponsors:

  • Julia Brownley
  • Salud Carbajal
  • Andre Carson
  • Adriano Espaillat
  • Jared Huffman
  • Eddie Bernice Johnson
  • Rick Larsen
  • Alan Lowenthal
  • Stephen Lynch
  • Tom Malinowski
  • Sean Patrick Maloney
  • Grace Napolitano
  • Eleanor Holmes Norton
  • Chris Pappas
  • Donald Payne
  • Albio Sires
  • Dina Titus

Groups supporting:

  • American Association for Justice
  • Association of Flight Attendants
  • Association of Professional Flight Attendants
  • National Center on Sexual Exploitation
  • Rights4Girls
  • Survivors for Solutions

Full bill text can be found here.

A fact sheet on the bill can be found here.