Senate Passes Bipartisan Legislation to Combat Sexual Harassment Championed by Rep. Owens
Washington, DC – Today, Rep. Burgess Owens (UT-04), Rep. Lois Frankel (FL-21), Rep. Ken Buck (CO-02), House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (NY-10), House Judiciary Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law Subcommittee Chairman David Cicilline (RI-01) and Vice Chair Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Rep. Morgan Griffith (VA-09), and Rep. Cheri Bustos (IL-07) released the following statement commending the Senate passage of the Speak Out Act. This bipartisan bill would prohibit predispute nondisclosure agreements (NDAs) in instances in which sexual harassment or sexual assault has been alleged in violation of Federal, State, or Tribal law. Current federal law, and most state laws, 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 before the abuse even occurs. This results in silencing survivors and shielding abusers, perpetuating illegal conduct.
“Workplaces should be safe and respectful for all. Nondisclosure agreements prohibit survivors from sharing their stories and alerting colleagues to dangerous conditions,” said the Members. “By empowering survivors to tell their stories without pre-imposed penalties, the Speak Out Act will make workplaces across the country safer and more productive for employers, employees, and consumers. We thank Senators Gillibrand, Blackburn, Hirono, and Graham for championing this bill through the Senate, and we look forward to working to pass it in the House and sending the Speak Out Act to President Biden’s desk.”
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.
The Senate voted to pass the Speak Out Act unanimously on September 29, 2022.