House Panel Passes Bill Prohibiting #MeToo NDAs

By Daniel Chasen posted 07-15-2022 13:04


By a 22-13 vote, the House Judiciary Committee advanced the SPEAK Out Act (H.R. 8227), which would prohibit predispute nondisclosure agreements between employers and current, former, and prospective workers in instances in which sexual harassment or sexual assault have been alleged in violation of Federal, Tribal, or State law. 

The bill would invalidate existing predispute NDAs in cases that have not yet been filed.

“Sexual harassment in the workplace forces many survivors to pass up on opportunities for advancement, leave their jobs, or their industry altogether,” said lead sponsor Rep. Lois Frankel (D-FL). The bill’s lead Republican cosponsor is Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO).

The bill also enjoys bipartisan support in the Senate, where a companion bill was introduced this week. The Senate bill is cosponsored by Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN). 

Outlook: It remains to be seen whether the bill can carve out space in a legislative calendar that will be crowded through the remainder of this year. However, the level of bipartisan support—how often do Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) and Sen. Graham sponsor companion bills?—leaves space for optimism for the bill’s proponents, including its chances in the next Congress where it could be a relatively doable achievement in what will presumably be a split Congress.