Legal Blog

How to Prevent and Remedy Sexual Harassment in the Workplace – Part Three

This blog is the third part of the 3-part series, “How to Prevent and Remedy Sexual Harassment in the Workplace”.

Click here to read Part 1, Part 2 will address how to handle complaints, conduct investigations and take remedial action. Part 3 will address new legislation to look out for.

Stay Tuned to New Legislation

We are only days into 2018 and already new legislation is being proposed and advocated for. In fact, some has already passed.

  • The new federal tax bill disallows employers from taking tax deductions for settlement sums to sexual harassment complainants that were part of agreements that included confidentiality clauses;
  • In December 2017, both Pennsylvania and New Jersey lawmakers introduced laws that would outright ban employers from entering into settlements premised upon non-disclosure agreements with employees bringing claims of sexual harassment;
  • Last week, Governor Cuomo of New York proposed new sexual harassment legislation that includes similar restrictions to prohibit confidentiality agreements relating to sexual assault or harassment for all public entities and branches of government, unless it is the express preference of the victim;
  • Delaware lawmakers have proposed updating the state’s sexual harassment policy, and including new language to make it applicable to legislators and lobbyists; and
  • Maryland’s General Assembly announced its intent to update its sexual harassment policy and the legislature will start tracking sexual harassment complaints against lawmakers and their staff members.

Other states, like California, have passed laws requiring employers to administer anti-harassment and anti-discrimination training. This past weekend, the Golden Globes was dominated by advocacy for the Time’s Up movement which seeks to advance new legislation that also makes it harder for employers to settle sexual harassment matters by utilizing nondisclosure agreements, and has created a legal fund to assist with legal costs associated with sexual harassment claims.

Based on the response to the 2017 allegations, it is wise to closely track your state and local laws, in additional to larger federal changes. Attorneys from Offit Kurman are available to assist with advice and counseling, investigations and representation in litigation or in front of state agencies.



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