How to Prevent and Remedy Sexual Harassment in the Workplace (III)
By Katharine Batista, Offt Kurman
Stay Tuned to New Legislation: New legislation is being proposed and advocated for. In fact, some has already passed.
The new federal tax bill bars employers from taking tax deductions for settlement sums to sexual harassment complainants that were part of agreements that included confidentiality clauses;
In December 2017, both Pennsylvania and New Jersey lawmakers introduced laws that would outright ban employers from entering into settlements premised upon non-disclosure agreements with employees bringing claims of sexual harassment;
At the end of January, Governor Cuomo of New York proposed new sexual harassment legislation that includes similar restrictions to prohibit confidentiality agreements relating to sexual assault or harassment for all public entities and branches of government, unless it is the express preference of the victim;
Delaware lawmakers have proposed updating the state’s sexual harassment policy, and including new language to make it applicable to legislators and lobbyists; and Maryland’s General Assembly announced its intent to update its sexual harassment policy and the legislature will start tracking sexual harassment complaints against lawmakers and their staff members.
Other states, such as California, have passed laws requiring employers to administer anti-harassment and anti-discrimination training. At the beginning of February, the Golden Globes was dominated by advocacy for the Time’s Up movement which seeks to advance new legislation that also makes it harder for employers to settle sexual harassment matters by utilising nondisclosure agreements, and has created a legal fund to assist with legal costs associated with sexual harassment claims.
Based on the response to the 2017 allegations, it is wise to closely track your state and local laws, in addition to larger federal changes.
Published: July 2018 l Photo: Tinnakorn - Fotolia.com