Debate in the State House gets heated over sexual harassment bill

Boston Statehouse

BOSTON (WWLP) – Tensions heightened on Thursday as lawmakers debated changes to the House’s proposed sexual harassment policies. The House unanimously adopted a set of new rules changing the chamber’s workplace sexual harassment policies.

But debate drew controversy after one lawmaker shared a personal story of harassment at the State House. Methuen State Representative Diana DiZoglio made an emotional appeal for representatives to ban all non-disclosure agreements.

Proposed law would create commission to deal with harassment complaints at the State House

She said she was fired from her job as an aide at the State House when she was 26 and forced to sign an NDA after rumors spread of inappropriate behavior between her and a lawmaker.

“We should not be in the business of silencing our critics or covering up any harassing or discriminatory behavior,” Rep. DiZoglio said. “Or even giving the appearance of doing so with public funds.”

Sexual harassment in the workplace: What crosses the line?

Ultimately, lawmakers approved the rules without the amendment, but during debate, one long time lawmaker called for the attorney general to investigate NDAs being used under House Speaker Robert DeLeo.

In a statement, DeLeo said the suggestion that the House used the agreements to cover up wrongdoing is “irresponsible speculation.”

Massachusetts House considering overhaul of sexual harassment policies

Lawmakers are also considering a separate bill that would create a commission to investigate claims of workplace harassment and sexual assault at the State House.

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