It is now two years since the New York Times exposed top Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein as a sexual predator, giving rise to the #MeToo movement. In the interim, quite a few powerful men, including many household names, have lost their jobs because of similar allegations. Although there is still a long way to go in this relatively short time, the #MeToo movement has been directly or indirectly responsible for some major changes in the workplace.
Banning Nondisclosure Agreements for Harassment
In the aftermath of Weinstein, et al, many states are banning confidentiality and nondisclosure agreements dealing with sexual harassment. The Los Angeles Times reports that a former Weinstein assistant received a settlement bound by a nondisclosure agreement that did not allow her to tell anyone that he frequently exposed himself to her. The woman worked for Weinstein nearly 20 years ago. Without a nondisclosure agreement, perhaps many other women would not have suffered humiliation and sexual assault at the hands of the Hollywood heavyweight. To date, California, New York, and New Jersey have banned nondisclosure agreements hiding instances of sexual harassment, and a bill was proposed on the federal level, the Be Heard Act.
More Worker Protections
In the past, federal and state laws regarding sexual harassment applied only to some employees, and not independent contractors. Such laws also did not apply to employers with fewer than 15 workers, operations that often include the most vulnerable female members of society. These include child-care workers, house cleaners, and agricultural workers.
Nothing has changed on the federal level, but some changes are occurring on the state level. Again, New York and California are leading the way to protect workers. Last year, the Empire State expanded sexual harassment laws so that independent contractors are covered, and earlier this year boosted domestic worker protections. California law did not go quite as far, but now those in particular business relationships will receive more protection.
In some instances, survivors of sexual assault are now receiving financial restitution from the perpetrators or the institutions that permitted the activity to continue unchecked. That includes victims of former USA Gymnastics team doctor, Larry Nassar, who was sentenced to the rest of his life in prison for the sexual abuse of hundreds of young teen athletes.
A Change in Thought
Before the #MeToo movement, it is likely that most Americans had little idea how widespread sexual harassment was in the workplace. Some sexually suggestive behavior that may have been tolerated in the past is no longer acceptable. Gender and power dynamics are also shifting. The #MeToo movement has made people aware of who holds power in this country, and how men with power may try to control women.
Cherry Hill Employment Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Help Employees Sexually Harassed at Work
If you or a loved one was sexually harassed at work, it is important that you report your accuser and obtain legal counsel. You need the services of a Cherry Hill employment lawyer at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. For a free consultation, contact us online or call us at 215-569-1999 today. Located in Pennsauken, New Jersey, we proudly serve clients throughout South Jersey, including Cherry Hill, Haddonfield, Marlton, Moorestown, and Mount Laurel.