Owens Helps Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Empower Employees, Consumers to Speak Out Against Sexual Harassment
Washington, D.C. – Today, Rep. Burgess Owens (UT-04) helped introduce the Speak Out Act, bipartisan legislation to prohibit predispute nondisclosure agreements (NDAs) in instances in which sexual harassment or sexual assault has been alleged in violation of Federal, Tribal, or State law. Current law allows the use of NDAs to force employees and consumers to sign away their rights to come forward about a future allegation of sexual harassment or assault. This results in silencing survivors and perpetuates illegal conduct.
“For far too long, nondisclosure agreements have silenced the voices of victims while protecting abusers and shielding egregious misconduct in the workplace,” said Rep. Owens. “I am proud to join my colleagues to help introduce The Speak Out Act to ensure that all survivors of workplace harassment and discrimination can have their voices heard.”
“The introduction of bipartisan legislation to eradicate nondisclosure agreements (NDAs) is a significant moment for millions of Americans who have been forced to suffer in silence even as they have experienced or witnessed sexual harassment and assault in the workplace. These survivors and witnesses are currently prevented from disclosing the truth to their colleagues, their friends, and even their family members. This culture of silence protects predators, and drives countless women and men from their jobs and careers. Following the passage of historic federal legislation that we championed ending the use of forced arbitration clauses that also silenced survivors from speaking out about their experiences, we are grateful to the courageous members of Congress on both sides of the aisle who are joining the fight to make workplaces safer for us all,” said Lift Our Voices co-founders Gretchen Carlson and Julie Roginsky.
The Speak Out Act would:
- Prohibit the use of predispute NDAs between employers and current, former, and prospective employees, as well as independent contractors;
- Prohibit the use of predispute NDAs between providers of goods and services and consumers, and;
- Invalidate existing predispute NDAs in cases that have not yet been filed.
A companion bill will be introduced in the Senate by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC).