As state and federal legislators continue to wrestle with the problem of sexual harassment in the workplace, Nevada Rep. Jacky Rosen and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren have introduced new legislation for congressional consideration called the Sunlight in Workplace Harassment Act.
If enacted, the new bill would require publicly traded companies to report all allegations of sexual harassment and other types of harassment in the workplace in their SEC filings.
Specifically, the legislation would require these employers to report all settlements made on complaints related to race, religion, sex, gender identity, genetic information, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, service-member status, or age discrimination.
Under this legislation, reports to the SEC will need to include the total number of harassment and discrimination complaints per year, the total number of settlements per year, and the dollar amount of settlements in each fiscal year.
In addition, the bill would require employers disclose the average length of time it takes to resolve complaints as well as information about the company’s efforts to prevent future acts of harassment, discrimination, or sexual abuse.
Of note, the legislation would cover contractors and other employees under the supervision of public companies. Under the Act, SEC reports will also be required to include settlements made involving “the behavior of an employee … toward another such employee, without regard to whether that behavior occurred in the workplace.”
At the moment, the likelihood of passage is unclear. Only a handful of Democrats have signed on to support the bill – including Senator Richard Blumenthal from Connecticut.
One other bill worthy of notice is a bipartisan piece of legislation (Ending Forces Arbitration of Sexual Harassment Act) currently alive in both chambers of Congress that would eliminate “forced arbitration” clauses for sexual harassment in some employment contracts that require employees to settle those complaints in private – outside of the court system.
We will be tracking these bills as well as those under consideration in the Connecticut legislature in the weeks and months to come.
If you are an employer in Connecticut and need guidance on the topic of sexual harassment, contact the attorneys at Kainen, Escalera & McHale. We do one thing and one thing only – we are an employer defense law firm – in fact, we are one of the largest employer defense law firms in the region. What’s more, each of our attorneys has over 20 years of experience in employment law and labor law matters and can provide your business with comprehensive legal counsel ranging from assistance with necessary preventive measures to trial advocacy. Please contact us if we can help you.
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