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Published on Friday, February 2, 2018

Bill that encourages disclosure of sexual harassment in the workplace passes out of committee

A bill by Sen. Karen Keiser (D-Des Moines), SB 5996, proposes some changes to how sexual harassment gets handled in the workplace. The bill does the following:

  • Prohibits an employer from requiring an employee, as a condition of employment, to sign a nondisclosure agreement that prevents the employee from disclosing sexual harassment or sexual assault;
  • Provides that any nondisclosure agreement that has the purpose or effect of preventing an employee from disclosing or discussing sexual harassment or sexual assault is void and unenforceable;
  • Provides that it is an unfair practice under the Washington Law Against Discrimination (WLAD) for an employer to retaliate against an employee for disclosing or discussing sexual harassment or sexual assault;
  • Human resources employees that are expected to maintain the confidentiality of an investigation as part of their official duties and employees requested to maintain confidentiality of an ongoing human resources investigation are excluded from the definition of employee; and
  • Confidential settlements between an employee alleging sexual harassment and an employer are excluded from the provisions of the bill.

The substitute version of the bill passed out of its policy committee and is now in the Senate Rules Committee. The bill has until Wednesday, February 14 to pass out of the Senate or the bill will die.

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