Senate Democrats Press Federal Courts on Sexual Harassment

January 11, 2019

Senate Democrats called on the federal court system to provide its own employees “an avenue for the confidential reporting of claims of sexual harassment and workplace misconduct and establish a clear, uniform process to ensure” that such claims are investigated by independent investigators.

The letter from Senate Judiciary Democrats raised concerns about:

  • The lack of a process to ensure that harassment claims are reviewed by independent, trained investigators; and
  • The need to conduct a comprehensive, retrospective review of the prevalence of sexual harassment in the federal judiciary.

House Democrats are likely to hold hearings on the issue, which could expand to private sector employers, with House leadership signaling that addressing sexual harassment in the workplace is a priority.

Outlook:  Employers can expect a number of bipartisan bills, such as the EMPOWER Act, to be introduced in both the House and Senate, and for states to enact legislation in 2019 similar to California’s new law that expanded harassment liability, imposed new restrictions on non-disclosure agreements, and expanded training requirements.