A bill that would prevent businesses from requiring employees to sign agreements blocking them from going to court over sexual harassment claims passed the House Labor Committee. The proposal by Representative Robert Johnson is part of a nationwide effort, backed by Attorney Generals, to protect victims of workplace misconduct.
Johnson says businesses shouldn’t have the ability to dictate how victims respond to abuse.
“This is not a matter of business in terms of a contractual nature, this is violating someone’s human dignity, in their workplace, where they should be safe.”
The legislation would allow accusers to choose whether they would like settle claims in arbitration, an independent alternative to the court, or take their claim before a civil court. Criminal cases of sexual harassment would be heard in criminal court.
Due the nature of sexual harassment, Johnson says victims must be guaranteed a chance to bring their case to a civil court judge.
“Sometimes these types of acts go on for a number of years, victims do not always report these things expeditiously, and sometimes those criminal charges are not able to be brought.”
The Marksville Democrat says victims stand a better chance to reach a favorable conclusion if they seek litigation for sexual harassment claims instead of potentially more company friendly options. He says when human dignity is on the line, a judge needs to be called.
“In this particular area, I feel very strongly about it, that arbitration is not appropriate.”