Statement of Terry O’Neill, Executive Director of the National Employment Lawyers Association
OAKLAND, Calif., June 5, 2018 – For over 30 years, NELA lawyers have stood up for employees—case by case, day in and day out—in the fight against sexual harassment and other forms of workplace discrimination. Today we are proud to support the Ending the Monopoly of Power Over Workplace Harassment through Education and Reporting Act (“EMPOWER Act”), a bipartisan bill introduced by Senators Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).
Under this bill, employers would no longer be able to silence survivors of workplace harassment through mandatory nondisclosure and non-disparagement agreements, nor could they continue to write off their harassment-related legal bills as a mere “cost of doing business.” If enacted, the bill would also end the unfair tax penalty currently imposed on those who succeed in holding their employers accountable for unlawful harassment suffered at work.
The EMPOWER Act would establish a confidential tip line allowing the EEOC to gather and analyze nationwide data on workplace harassment. In addition, the bill would require publicly traded companies to disclose information about workplace harassment settlements. Secret settlements pose a material risk to investors. Requiring settlement disclosures from publicly traded companies will promote greater transparency, safer work environments, and more accountability on the part of those in power.
Harassment and discrimination have persisted because employers use their power to silence employees who complain of illegal treatment on the job. NELA applauds Senators Harris and Murkowski for introducing this important legislation, and calls on all Senators to help enact it into law.
# # #
The National Employment Lawyers Association (NELA) advances employee rights and serves lawyers who advocate for equality and justice in the American workplace. NELA provides assistance and support to lawyers in protecting the rights of employees against the greater resources of their employers and the defense bar. It is the country’s largest professional organization exclusively comprised of lawyers who represent individual employees in cases involving employment discrimination and other employment-related matters. NELA and its 69 circuit, state, and local Affiliates have more than 4,000 members around the country.
1800 Sutter Street, Suite 210
Concord, CA 94520
Washington DC Office
C/O AFL-CIO 815 Black Lives Matter Plaza NW
Washington DC, 20006