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From: HR Dive By Valeria Bolden-Barrett
August 13, 2019

Dive Brief:

  • Thirteen states limited employers’ ability or prohibited them from forcing employees to sign nondisclosure agreements as a part of their terms of employment or as a part of a settlement, according to a new National Women’s Law Center report providing “an overview of the progress that has been made in advancing workplace harassment reforms” since the October 2017 rise of the #MeToo movement.
  • Five states extended protections against sexual harassment to interns, independent contractors or graduate students, protections granted to these groups for the first time.
  • Four states and New York City extended their statute of limitations for filing sexual harassment complaints. Ten states and New York City passed prevention measures, including mandatory training and policy requirements for workplaces.

Dive Insight:

Several pieces of recent research set out to measure the effects of the #MeToo movement, just as the National Women’s Law Center report did so through the lens of legislation. Though each piece of research highlighted changes initiated by #MeToo, the reports generally depict a society in which awareness is up but change is slow.

A NAVEX Global report released in April showed that sexual harassment complaints rose by more than 18% after #MeToo took off. Carrie Penman, NAVEX Global’s chief compliance officer and senior vice president of advisory services, said in a news release that the report’s results reflected the strong increases in the number of people willing to speak out about sexual misconduct and that this should signal to employers a mounting level of intolerance for misconduct.

Workers’ willingness to speak up about harassment may have increased after #MeToo, but many workers reported little change in the workplace. More than half of women (57%) in a 2018 Fairygodboss survey said the workplace has remained the same since #MeToo. In a similar vein, sexual harassment in the workplace reportedly has declined, but gender discrimination rose in the past three years; new studies from University of Colorado Boulder’s Leeds School of Business uncovered this setback for working women last month. The reports defined gender harassment as the sexist remarks or sexist material displayed or made by women’s coworkers or supervisors.

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