“Sexual harassment in the workplace is a pervasive and pernicious problem in this country. It affects women and men across industries and occupations, contributes to the punishing gender-based wage gap that harms so many women and families, and can have especially grave consequences for women who face other forms of discrimination and harassment, including women of color, LGBTQ women and women with disabilities. Put simply, sexual harassment diminishes women’s opportunities and success. Preventing and effectively addressing it is one way to help close the gender-based wage gap and promote financial security for women and families.
That is why we are so pleased that U.S. Senators Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) introduced the EMPOWER (Ending the Monopoly of Power Over Workplace Harassment through Education and Reporting) Act today. This urgently needed legislation will help stop sexual harassment and provide greater transparency when it does occur. The protections in this bill would make a meaningful difference for women, including those who face the largest power imbalances in the workplace, such as domestic workers, farm workers and restaurant and retail workers.
We are especially pleased that the bill takes a comprehensive approach, prohibits nondisparagement and nondisclosure clauses in employment agreements, and requires public companies to disclose the number of settlements and judgments as well as repeat settlements with respect to individual perpetrators. These provisions would create powerful disincentives for companies to tolerate harassment in their workplaces, helping make #TIMESUP for perpetrators.
We commend Senators Harris and Murkowski for developing and championing this bill and urge every member of Congress to make its passage a high priority.”