Sending Office: Honorable Lois Frankel
Co-Sponsors: Lois Frankel, Ted Poe, Jerry Nadler,
Barbara Comstock, Lisa Blunt Rochester, John Faso, Jackie Speier,
Please join us in cosponsoring the bipartisan Ending the Monopoly of Power Over Workplace harassment through Education and Reporting (EMPOWER) Act, a comprehensive package to lift the veil of secrecy surrounding harassment, and bolster transparency
and accountability. Companion legislation was introduced by Senators Kamala Harris and Lisa Murkowski.
Workplace harassment is an abuse of power, robbing women and men of a safe and dignified work environment and harming their ability to care for their families.
For too long, employers have tolerated or perpetrated harassment with impunity by maintaining a culture of silence. Nondisclosure agreements (NDAs) are increasingly the norm in workplace contracts, meaning employees sign away their rights to speak out about
harassment, and companies can keep cases out of the public eye. This practice has allowed employees who harass to quietly settle, essentially paying for the license to abuse. Even our tax code is stacked against survivors, penalizing them with unjust taxation
while allowing companies to write off harassment payments as a cost of doing business.
The EMPOWER Act will change this equation. It will enable survivors to speak out by prohibiting employers from forcing employees to sign NDAs for harassment, and establishing a confidential tip-line at the EEOC. It will shine a light on bad behavior and
provide important information to shareholders by mandating that public companies disclose numbers of settlements and judgments to the Securities and Exchange Commission. It will reform the tax code so that survivors aren’t punished and taxpayer money doesn’t
subsidize payments made to deal with harassment claims. Finally, it will direct the EEOC to develop workplace training programs and a public service campaign about worker rights, effective bystander intervention and preventative efforts.
Specifically, the EMPOWER Act:
- Prohibits non-disparagement and non-disclosure clauses that cover workplace harassment as a condition of employment, promotion, compensation, benefits, or change in employment status or contractual relationship;
- Establishes a confidential tip-line for the EEOC to receive reports about harassment and target employers that continue to allow for systemic harassment at the workplace. This would supplement the EEOC’s current formal complaint process. The information
would be shared with state-based Fair Employment Practice Agencies, who could also bring civil enforcement actions against employers;
- Requires that public companies disclose the number of settlements, judgments, and aggregate settlement amounts in connection with workplace harassment (as a material disclosure) in their annual SEC filings; and disclose the existence of repeat settlements
with respect to a particular individual;
- Prohibits companies from receiving tax deductions for expenses and attorneys’ fees paid in connection with litigation related to workplace harassment; prohibits tax deductions for amounts paid pursuant to judgments related to workplace harassment; protects
plaintiffs’ awards and settlements received in connection with workplace harassment as nontaxable income; and ensures that plaintiffs who receive frontpay or backpay as a result of harassment and discrimination are not taxed unjustly.
- Requires development and dissemination of workplace training programs to educate at all levels about what constitutes prohibited workplace harassment and how to prevent this behavior; educates employees about their rights with respect to workplace harassment,
including how to report it; and trains bystanders on how to intervene and report; develops a public service advertisement campaign to provide further education on this issue.
We invite you to join us as a cosponsor of this important legislation. For more information or to cosponsor, please contact Yana.Mayayeva@mail.house.gov in Rep. Lois Frankel’s office. Please note we will
be adding Democratic and Republican Members in pairs.
|Lois Frankel||Barbara Comstock||Jerrold Nadler||Lisa Blunt Rochester|
|Member of Congress||Member of Congress||Member of Congress||Member of Congress|
e-Dear Colleague version 2.0