During the past year, there has been an increase in legislative activity at every level of government in response to the #MeToo movement, as well as an accompanying national dialogue regarding workplace harassment and, in particular, sexual harassment.
While a number of state and local proposals have actually become law, the U.S. Congress has not taken any direct action beyond enacting a provision included in last year’s tax reform law that prohibits employers from deducting the costs of sexual harassment settlements as a business expense.
That may change, however, given the recent introduction of bipartisan legislation entitled, “Ending the Monopoly of Power Over Workplace Harassment through Education and Reporting” Act (EMPOWER Act), which includes several provisions designed, according to the bill’s supporters, to “reduce the barriers that prevent victims from speaking out and seeking justice, put companies on notice that they can no longer financially protect harassers in secret, and arm individuals with the resources they need to address systemic workplace harassment.”
And although other legislative priorities and time constraints before the November elections make it unlikely that Congress will pass a bill this year, any new proposal that has some bipartisan support bears watching, especially if the political dynamics shift after the November elections.
A copy of the EMPOWER Act is available here.
Members of the Center for Workplace Compliance (CWC) can read more here.