Workplace Culture

#MeToo has brought dozens of state law changes

Meghan McCarty Carino Jan 7, 2020
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Activists participate in the #MeToo March on November 10, 2018 in Hollywood, California. Sarah Morris/Getty Images
Workplace Culture

#MeToo has brought dozens of state law changes

Meghan McCarty Carino Jan 7, 2020
Activists participate in the #MeToo March on November 10, 2018 in Hollywood, California. Sarah Morris/Getty Images
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It’s been a little more than two years since allegations of sexual assault by the Hollywood executive Harvey Weinstein came to light. Since then the #MeToo movement has spurred more than a dozen states to adopt new laws on harassment and abuse.

Ten states have expanded requirements for harassment training and prevention, and four have extended the amount of time employees have to file harassment claims, making for a busy two years for employment law attorney Nisha Verma with Dorsey and Whitney.

“It’s been a lot for employers to grapple with,” said Verma. “Compliance can be tricky particularly for multi-state employers that are dealing with different kinds of laws in different states.”

Andrea Johnson with the National Women’s Law Center said the most common change — adopted in 13 states — has been to limit the use of non-disclosure agreements by employers.

“These legal tools are being used by many employers to silence victims,” she said. “We recognized very quickly how many holes there are in our legal protections that are really making it easier for harassers to continue harassing.”

Some of the new state laws attempting to ban forced arbitration face legal challenges, but the majority of states haven’t adopted any new protections since the #MeToo movement began.

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