Politicians have not been exempt from scrutiny as women have come forward and voiced their stories of harassment in Washington, DC and at state capitals.
State and federal lawmakers have introduced proposals to address the problem of sexual harassment in both public and private employment. To date, over 80 pieces of legislation in 21 states and the Congress related to sexual harassment have been introduced this year.
Private Sector Beware: Employers should carefully monitor how legislatures are approaching this issue. New mandated employee training and/or rule changes are on the horizon.
This year's proposed legislation aimed at addressing sexual harassment in the private sector includes:
- Banning the use of mandatory arbitration provisions in contracts relating to allegations of sexual harassment (NY SB 6972);
- Banning the use of nondisclosure or confidentiality agreements that involve sexual assault, harassment, or discrimination (IN HB 1237);
- Mandating that private sector employers provide employees with sexual harassment education and training programs (VA HB 653);
- Creating a cause of action for sexual harassment in state court (MS HB 1441);
- Requiring the state attorney general to establish and maintain a sexual harassment in the workplace hotline and website so state residents may report instances of sexual harassment in the workplace (IL HB 4149); and
- Allowing a person providing contracted services to bring a sexual harassment action against the entity for which the person is under contract (TN HB 1984).
Be Smart: Consider developing policies and training programs to protect against workplace sexual harassment.