Almost everyone agrees that employers who are guilty of sexual harassment should be held accountable. Aside from pursuing legal action and receiving a settlement, many victims want their employer to face further punitive measures. The most obvious type of consequence is a damaged reputation. After all, what kind of business wants to be associated with sexual harassment in the workplace? Many businesses that have dealt with these scandals in the past have suffered considerably, both in a financial sense and in terms of their public image.
Unfortunately, many businesses around the globe have discovered a loophole. By requiring employees to sign NDAs prior to employment, they can silence victims of sexual harassment. Although these victims will still receive settlements after taking legal action against their employers, they’ll never have the opportunity to speak out about what they’ve experienced. In other words, the employer that is guilty of allowing sexual harassment never has to face the public shame of their issues.
New Mexico is one of many states that is taking steps to address this problem. According to new laws put into place in 2020, employers are no longer allowed to require employees to sign NDAs as a condition of their employment.
Victims Can Now Speak Out
According to this law, sexual harassment victims in Albequerque and across New Mexico can now speak out about the exact details of their experiences – even after they have received a settlement. This is an important victory for groups like the #MeToo movement and other organizations, but it actually goes much further. Victims of retaliation also enjoy the same protections, and they can speak out about their experiences as well.
The Law Is Limited
Although significant progress has been made with New Mexico’s new laws, there are still significant limitations placed on victims of sexual harassment in the workplace. Employers are still allowed to issue NDAs to employees that prevent them from revealing the settlement amount. In other words, victims can not reveal how much money they received as a result of legal action. While this does place limitations on victims, most people would agree that the details of the incident are more important (and more damning) than the numerical amount of the settlement.
The Debate About NDA
There is significant debate about whether these laws actually help or harm sexual harassment victims. On the one hand, “bad actors” may not be hidden as easily if things aren’t kept confidential. Future employees may be less inclined to work for a company if they are aware of potential danger from sexual harassment
On the other hand, many people argue that these laws rob victims of leverage. The main reason why companies choose to settle is to keep things confidential. If this is no longer possible, then why even bother with a settlement? If you’re going to spend millions on legal fees just to have a damaged reputation anyway, then what’s the point?