Biden Signs Bill Limiting Use Of NDA That Blocks Sexual Harassment Victims From Speaking Out
President Joe Biden has signed the Speak Out Act into law, which would prevent the judicial enforcement of non-disclosure agreements to silence victims of sexual assault and harassment in workplace.
Introduced by New York senator Kirsten Gillibrand in July, the Bill was approved unanimously in the Senate and was passed by the House of Representatives by a vote of 315 to 109.
After signing the bill, Biden expressed gratitude to Senators Kirsten Gillibrand, Mazie Hirono, Blackburn, and Graham, and Representatives Frankel, Cheri Bustos, Buck, Cicilline, Griffith, Nadler, and Jayapal, and many others for their leadership.
In the text of the bill, Congress stated that it had found non-disclosure agreements to perpetuate illegal conduct. Congress also stated that while 81 percent of women had experiences of sexual harassment and assault at work, 43 percent of men had also experienced similar treatment.
The White House said the bipartisan legislation will enable survivors to speak out about workplace sexual assault and harassment, increase access to justice, and make the workplace safer for everyone.
Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre thanked the extraordinary leadership of Gretchen Carlson and other survivors and advocates, as well as Congresswomen Lois Frankel, Cheri Bustos, Kirsten Gillibrand and Mazie Hirono.
According to the White House, one in three women report having faced sexual harassment in the workplace, and people of color, low-wage workers, and LGBTQI+ individuals are also disproportionately impacted. The threat of legal retaliation can silence survivors while allowing predatory workplace behavior to continue unchecked.
The Speak Out Act creates a critical national standard, empowering survivors by prohibiting the enforcement of pre-dispute nondisclosure agreements, or NDAs, and non-disparagement clauses agreed to before a dispute arises involving sexual assault or sexual harassment in workplace.
This bill builds on the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act, which the President signed into law earlier this year. The law made it easier for survivors of sexual assault and harassment to bring suit in court and to avoid being forced to arbitrate their legal claims.
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