- Pennsylvania Sen. Judy Schwank (D) says she and a handful of Democratic state lawmakers will introduce a bill to ban sexual misconduct non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), City and State PA reports. Senate Bill 999, aimed at abusers with power over their victims, would also ban disclosing or destroying evidence in these cases.
- Schwank says the identity of people charged with sexual misconduct shouldn't be hidden by a non-disclosure agreement. NDAs have been caused public controversy in the wake of several high-profile harassment allegations across politics, tech, business and other cultural spheres.
- The bill's proponents say such legislation should empower victims to come forth and report abuse. The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape supports the bill.
Pennsylvania Democratic lawmakers have taken a step to keep alleged sexual abusers from hiding behind NDAs, while federal legislators look into ways of handling abuse from its members. Lawyers for film producer Harvey Weinstein, comedian Bill Cosby and corporate entities initially used NDAs to protect their clients' identity from public scrutiny.
Since the Weinstein case surfaced, both Amazon and Fidelity have publicly admitted sexual misconduct allegations against a few of their executives. The companies previously had kept the accusations quiet. In a recent panel, commissioners from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission addressed the problem of NDAs, with Comm. Chai Feldblum stating that employees with allegations to bring forward could still do so, even if bound by an NDA.
Kristina Bergman, CEO and co-founder of Integris Software, took a bold, ground-breaking step towards preventing sexual harassment in her company by requiring investors to sign an agreement that replaces board directors if there's "reasonable probability" that they committed misconduct. Reducing more inappropriate behavior in the workplace might require action like Bergman's.
A report released in August found that companies hadn't changed their handling of sexual misconduct, cyber threats and other scandals. Other research points to the ineffectiveness of training procedures commonly used in the workplace. Should such problems arise at your workplace, know how to investigate and prepare in advance.