Lisa Blunt Rochester and Lauren Underwood Intro Workplace Harassment Bill
Congresswomen Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE) and Lauren Underwood (D-IL) last week introduced legislation to address workplace harassment. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) estimates that 90% of individuals who say they have experienced harassment never take formal action, such as filing a charge or complaint, and roughly three in four never speak to a superior about the conduct. The Ending the Monopoly of Power Over Workplace harassment through Education and Reporting (EMPOWER) Act aims to address that by banning non-disparagement and NDAs in workplace contracts. “For too long, our society has ignored various forms of sexual harassment that women face, which perpetuates cultures of suffering and silence. Thanks to the #MeToo movement, we are coming to terms with how wide-spread this problem truly is, and we are doing something about it,” said Blunt Rochester. The bill would require public companies to disclose numbers of settlements and judgments to the SEC, and establish a confidential tip-line for reporting at the EEOC. It would also bar companies from claiming tax deductions for expenses associated with workplace harassment suits. “Employers are increasingly using non-disclosure agreements to force workers to sign away their rights to speak out about harassment,” Underwood said. “By prohibiting this practice, the EMPOWER Act will help ensure that everyone has a safe and dignified work environment.” Joining Blunt Rochester and Underwood on the bill were Representatives Lois Frankel (D-FL), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), John Katko (R-NY), and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA). A companion bill was introduced in the upper chamber by Senators Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). More here.