#MeToo Legislative Rundown

May 31, 2018 |

2017 was the year of #MeToo.  If history is any indicator of things to come, 2018 will be the year of #MeToo legislation.  Last week, I blogged about new laws already passed in New York State and New York City.  Below is an overview of legislative proposals we have seen in other parts of the country.

In California, the deadline for introducing new legislative bills has passed, which means we now have a good idea of the #MeToo bills lawmakers in California will be voting on.  These include a prohibition on mandatory arbitration of sexual harassment claims, an extension of the statute of limitations for filing such claims, mandatory training for employers of all sizes, and a retaliation presumption if a termination occurs within 90 days of reporting sexual harassment.

Connecticut lawmakers will vote on a bill that extends mandatory sexual harassment training to all employees and applies to employers with either 15 or 3 employees.  Delaware and Pennsylvania are also considering bills that would mandate sexual harassment training.  The Delaware bill would require employers with fifty or more employees to provide at least two hours of sexual harassment training to all supervisory employees every two years.  The Pennsylvania bill mandates interactive sexual harassment training for all current employees every two years, and “additional interactive training” for all supervisors.

Arbitration and Confidentiality Agreements

As I blogged about last week, New York’s recently enacted law limits the use of arbitration and nondisclosure agreements with respect to sexual harassment claims.  Washington State has also enacted a similar restriction, specifically voiding any employment contract that requires an employee to waive the right to file a complaint with a state or federal antidiscrimination agency, pursue a cause of action arising under state or federal antidiscrimination laws, or resolve claims of discrimination in a dispute resolution process that is confidential.  Washington also enacted a law prohibiting employers from requiring employees to sign a nondisclosure agreement related to sexual harassment or sexual assault as a condition of employment. It should be noted that the law does not prohibit a settlement agreement between an employee or former employee and an employer from containing confidentiality provisions.

Several other states are also actively considering laws related to confidentiality and arbitration agreements related to sexual harassment, including  Arizona, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.

Finally, a unanimous block of attorneys general from across the country sent a letter to Congress asking federal lawmakers to prohibit the use of mandatory arbitration agreements related to sexual harassment claims, and a bill has now been introduced.

Sexual harassment is not going away, and states are going to continue passing laws.  We recommend that all employers invest in sexual harassment policies and interactive training that takes into account your organization’s unique vulnerabilities.  We can help.

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