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N.L. politician says law must change after man acquitted of yelling ‘FHITP’ at reporter

A N.L. politician is hoping to change provincial harassment laws following the acquittal of a man who hurled sexual obscenities at a female TV reporter in St. John's. File / Global News

A Newfoundland politician is hoping to change provincial harassment laws following the acquittal of a man who hurled sexual obscenities at a female TV reporter in St. John’s.

Cathy Bennett says laws on workplace sexual harassment are badly outdated.

READ MORE: N.L. Judge rules shouting FHITP at a reporter was not a public disturbance

On Tuesday, provincial court Judge Colin Flynn dismissed a single charge against 28-year-old Justin Penton for causing a public disturbance.

Penton acknowledged he yelled a phrase commonly abbreviated to FHITP at NTV reporter Heather Gillis last April as she taped an interview outside the St. John’s dump.

The judge said the sexist slur – part of a crass phenomenon that has plagued journalists in the United States and Canada since it started as an online prank in 2014 – was vulgar and offensive, but not a crime under the circumstances.

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WATCH: How FHRITP is harassment not just a vile prank

In a statement Wednesday, Bennett said she will introduce a private member’s bill in the House of Assembly to amend the Labour Standards Act, the Labour Relations Act, and the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

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