Three Indian-American Women Pioneer a Bill in Massachusetts Legislature on Workplace Harassment

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From left to right: Senator Cindy Friedman and her staffer, Kristina Gaffny, Ranjani Saigal, Gitanjali Swamy and Mandy Pant

BOSTON—Three Indian-American leaders took a bold step to change a law in Massachusetts that deals with workplace harassment. They recently scored their first victory as a bill on the issue has been recently put in place in the Massachusetts Senate.

“We are currently in the process of garnering support for the Bill,” said Mandy Pant, who along with Ranjani Saigal and Gitanjali Swamy, took the initiative to change the law. “You may either send email to mabill1523@gmail.com or reach out directly to the Massachusetts State house to share your support.”

The bill is on Senate Docket number 1523 (SD.1523) and can be viewed on the Massachusetts Legislature’s website.

Mandy Pant

“Once we have sufficient support for the Bill, it will be brought into the House for vote,” Ms. Pant told INDIA New England News. “Hopefully, it will get passed shortly thereafter and become part of the law.”

How did the three women come up with this idea?

In May of 2017, Ms. Pant, Ms. Saigal and Ms. Swamy were participating in panel discussion jointly organized by IIT-AGNE and TIE-Boston. The panel discussion focused on challenges to female innovators.

“This panel sowed the seeds of an impactful idea within the IIT-AGNE women’s group,” said Ms. Pant.

Highlighting a serious gap in the sexual harassment and discrimination statute in Massachusetts, Ms. Swamy, Ms. Pant and Ms. Saigal approached Massachusetts State Senator Cindy Friedman to initiate a long overdue amendment to the Massachusetts statute, similar to what has already been introduced in other states like California.

“The current version of the Massachusetts law only covers landlord/tenants; employer/employees and certain service providers, but does not include private investors like venture capitalists,” Ms. Pant said. “We are confident that this Bill, once passed will open the doors towards encouraging more diverse entrepreneurs, enabling a larger percentage of the population to have access to funds, to grow businesses, to have protections against predatory practices and bring to new ideas to fruition.”

Ms. Swamy, Ms. Pant and Ms. Saigal expressed gratitude to Senator Friedman who quickly saw the importance and introduced this Bill. Senator Friedman represents the 4th Middlesex District in the Massachusetts Senate. Friedman’s district comprises Arlington, Billerica, Burlington, Lexington and Woburn. She has been serving since 2017.

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