EMPOWER Act Shines Much-Needed Light on Workplace Harassment and Bans Strategies to Prevent Claims
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SILVER SPRING, Md. (March 28, 2019) – Workplace Fairness believes that treatment of workers is sound public policy and good business practice.
Workplace harassment is a pervasive issue that affects workers across the country and across industries.
“The EMPOWER Act shines much needed light on workplace harassment, and bans some of the most common strategies employers use to prevent harassment claims from going forward. Workplace Fairness supports the EMPOWER Act and continuing efforts on both the federal and state level to strengthen harassment laws so that those targeted for harassment have an incentive to seek legal relief,” says Paula Brantner, Senior Advisor, Workplace Fairness.
The Ending the Monopoly of Power Over Workplace Harassment through Education and Reporting (EMPOWER) Act enhances protections and reduces barriers that prevent people who experience harassment from speaking out and seeking justice and puts companies on notice that they can no longer shield harassers.
The EMPOWER Act would:
- End the use of nondisparagement and nondisclosure agreements in employment agreements to allow for greater transparency that makes the workplace safer for everyone.
- Require public companies to report the number of settlements and judgments related to workplace harassment to allow for greater transparency between the company, its workers and shareholders.
- End the practice of companies using tax deductions to write off legal fees associated with workplace harassment settlements, not allowing companies to receive a benefit from a harassment claim. It would also protect an employee who wins a settlement award from incurring a tax penalty by classifying the settlement as nontaxable income.
- Create a confidential tip line for anonymous Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reports of workplace harassment. to receive, log and acknowledge the receipt of reports from workers, applicants, bystanders or other individuals who have witnessed or experienced harassment in the workplace.
- Require the development and dissemination of workplace training programs to educate all workers about what constitutes workplace harassment, including sexual harassment, how to prevent the behavior and how to report it.
See helpful information on Workplace Fairness about ways to address sexual harassment in the workplace and the non-disclosure agreements that are sometimes required and can inhibit transparency in dealing with these issues.
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About Workplace Fairness
Workplace Fairness is a nonprofit organization that provides information, education and assistance to individual workers and their advocates nationwide and promotes public policies that advance employee rights.
Our goals are that workers and their advocates are educated about workplace rights and options for resolving workplace problems and that policymakers, members of the business community and the public at large view the fair treatment of workers as both good business practice and sound public policy.
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Individual interviews with Workplace Fairness staff and members of the Board of Directors can be scheduled to discuss workplace issues for workers and employers.
Workplace Fairness works toward these goals by:
- Making comprehensive information about workers' rights—free of legal jargon—readily available to workers and to advocates and organizations that assist workers;
- Providing resources to support the work of legal services organizations, community-based organizations, law schools and private attorneys that provide free legal information and services to low-income workers;
- Presenting the employee perspective in publications, policy debates and public discussion.
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Paula Brantner, Senior Advisor