The #MeToo movement highlighted the prevalence of sexual harassment in workplaces across the country and in New York. For years, if not decades, employers have had a variety of ways to keep instances of workplace sexual harassment in the dark. One way was confidential settlement agreements. In other words, employers could pay employees alleging sexual harassment to “keep quiet.”
Another way, was to require that employees who were alleging workplace sexual harassment fight their claims in mandatory secret arbitration, instead of publicly in court. Today’s Long Island employment law blog discusses a new law passed by Congress which addresses these forced arbitrations.
Since the beginning of the #MeToo movement’s growing publicity, lawmakers have worked to take away employer’s tools for silencing sexual harassment victims. Federally, Congress altered the tax code to prohibit payments to sexual harassment victims from being categorized as a deductible business expense when the employer requires confidentiality about the payment, as a term for payment. Arguably, the goal was to make employers re-consider whether payments should be confidential and to provide incentive for employers to remove confidentiality terms from settlement agreements. F&W would argue that this is not effective.