Many workers in Oregon feel as if they have little recourse if they are being mistreated in the workplace. This is especially true with a hostile work environment in general and particularly sexual harassment.
Fortunately, Congress recently passed a new law that should help workers feel more empowered.
The Speak Out Act will prohibit the use of nondisclosure agreements that limit a worker’s ability to speak about their experience of sexual harassment. Recognizing sexual harassment and being aware of this law are fundamental to pursuing a case.
The Speak Out Act and how it addresses NDAs
With President Biden signing the Speak Out Act, employers are no longer protected by an NDA they compelled employees and contractors to sign as a condition of employment.
Many employers require NDAs in order to protect trade secrets, but critics say that some employers were using them to prevent workers from talking about sexual harassment.
Now, these NDAs cannot be enforced.
Many people had signed these agreements without fully understanding what they meant. According to some sources, as many as 33% of workers were constrained by these NDAs. Now, that is no longer the case.
Recognizing sexual harassment
People may not even realize they are being sexually harassed. While some behaviors are obvious – such as lewd comments or showing inappropriate images – there are many other issues and activities that can also constitute sexual harassment and warrant action.
Sexual harassment violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Workplaces with at least 15 employees are subject to this law.
It does not matter who is committing the harassment. It could be a supervisor, an owner, a colleague or the person filing the complaint could simply be a witness to another person being harassed.
Getting the complaint on the record is important, so people should let their employer know what has happened. If nothing is done, then it may be useful to consider the legal alternatives to hold the alleged transgressor and the employer accountable.
Workers should not be afraid to complain about employment law violations
It can be intimidating to be an employee whose rights were violated and facing off against a large company. That, however, does not mean the violations should simply be ignored. When considering pursing a claim for sexual harassment or other areas of employment law, it is wise to have aggressive help that will fight for maximum justice.
Gathering evidence, proving what happened and holding employers accountable can be complex, but it can be done.