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Russell A. Jackson
May 21, 2018
#MeToo Felt Far and Wide
Organizations are addressing sexual harassment.
Change is already afoot.
- The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has approved new conduct standards and avenues for reporting claims of misconduct by members. The organization's CEO emailed members about "ensuring that when a grievance is made, it will go through a fair and methodical process." Interestingly, the Academy's first test case involves hotline misconduct complaints about its president.
- MSU established a Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct Workgroup; its recommendations led to formation of an Office of Civil Rights and Title IX Education and Compliance and the addition of a dozen new positions in prevention, outreach, and education. At Hopkins, the Sexual Misconduct Policy and Procedures that went into effect July 2017 imposes sanctions that include mandatory training, probation, and dismissal; and the school conducts more "campus climate surveys." At Penn State, a sexual misconduct policy put in place in January 2014 requires "mandatory Annual Compliance Training;" sanctions range from warnings to termination, and include unpaid suspension, tenure revocation, and withholding salary increases.
- Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) recently signed legislation prohibiting employers from requiring nondisclosure agreements that keep individuals from speaking out about harassment and prevent those agreements from barring testimony in civil lawsuits. The measure also enables plaintiffs to conduct discovery on previous harassment claims and voids employment contracts and arbitration agreements that prohibit harassment complaints. At the signing, Inslee noted the impact of the #MeToo movement. California set up a committee to hear testimony about inappropriate politician behavior. Legislators in Illinois, Tennessee, and Wisconsin must now undergo harassment training every year; Illinois also requires lobbyists to complete sexual harassment training annually and maintain written harassment policies. Employers found in violation "may be subject to civil and criminal penalties, independent of any individual causes of action available to sexual harassment victims." Connecticut requires organizations with at least 50 employees to provide training to supervisors, and Maine demands that companies of 15 or more train all employees, plus additional training for supervisors.
- The New York City Counsel is weighing the Stop Sexual Harassment in New York City Act, which requires businesses with at least 15 employees to conduct sexual harassment prevention training, creates reporting requirements for city contractors, and sets up a system for surveying agencies to prompt anonymous disclosure of potential problems.
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