EEOC Reconvenes Task Force to Prevent Workplace Harassment

Katz, Marshall & Banks partner Debra Katz testified about sexual harassment issues in the #MeToo era before an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) task force called “Transforming #MeToo Into Harassment-Free Workplaces.”

In 2015, the EEOC formed a select task force, comprised mainly of professors and attorneys, to meet and hear from different experts and their suggestions of how to effectively eradicate sexual harassment from the American workplace.

At the June 2018 meeting, Ms. Katz participated as an expert witness speaking out against certain common legal practices utilized by employers – in particular mandatory arbitration and non-disclosure agreements.

Mandatory arbitration, Ms. Katz advised the panel, is inherently advantageous towards the employer. Companies that consistently appear in arbitration fare better than one-time parties, victims are denied their day in court, and perpetrators’ alleged actions are kept secret from the public and other or future victims.

Ms. Katz also emphasized that non-disclosure agreements, when used to silence bystanders of harassment, can be equally harmful. Many employers require non-disclosure agreements as a condition of employment.  The language of these agreements can be so strict, with such outrageously high damages, that employees are scared into silence when witnessing workplace harassment.

As Ms. Katz stated in her presentation, #MeToo has proven that the laws currently in place are wholly inadequate to ensure an equal workplace free from harassment. And until we address this insufficiency, “we will continue to lose out on the talent and ability of millions of American women.”

Read Ms. Katz’s full written testimony here, and the EEOC’s press release here.