Proposed law to address sexual harrassment in Tenn. music industry derailed

Mar 20, 2019

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WMOT/AP)  --  A Tennessee House subcommittee yesterday derailed an effort to extend to contract workers the same protections from sexual harassment enjoyed by fulltime employees.

Nashville singer, songwriter Bri Murphy testifies on Capitol Hill Mar. 19, 2019.
Credit capitol.tn.gov

Nashville Democrat Bob Freeman introduced the bill, saying music industry contract workers have few legal options when harassed on the job. He called on mid-state singer, songwriter Bri Murphy to share her experiences with lawmakers.

“I don’t have just one story, I have countless stories and I have literally lost track of the number of times I’ve been sexually harassed in the Music Industry.”

Murphy went on to tell the panel that during her eight years working music gigs in Nashville she has been grabbed, chased, blackmailed, drugged, stalked, catcalled, threatened and raped on the job.

The committee’s Republican majority expressed sympathy and a willingness to act, but worried that passing the measure might blur the legal definition that separates contract workers from full time employees. Here is what Lebanon Republican Clark Boyd had to say during debate.

“If sexual harassment is going on in independent contractor status like this something needs to be done, but this is not the solution.  This bill – it can’t be done. You can’t give employee benefits to an independent contractor.”

Boyd suggested that the Chamber of Commerce, Music Industry Reps, Small Business advocates, and government agencies need to be involved in crafting what he would consider a workable bill.

The measure was sent to a summer study committee. That's usually an indication the bill is dead for the session.

Use the link below to hear the full committee debate on House Bill0387.