Several recent high-profile cases in the media have made workplace sexual harassment a common topic of conversation. Victims are beginning to feel as though they have more means to come forward with their stories, in the hopes that perpetrators will be punished appropriately for their actions. Here in Oregon, lawmakers are doing their part by passing recent legislation in the senate that seeks to give victims of sexual harassment more power to report the abuse and discrimination they may suffer at work.
The Oregon Workplace Fairness Act passed the senate by an overwhelming majority and it is now headed to the house for further review. It will stop employers from requesting that employees sign nondisclosure agreements, though an employee is still allowed to ask for one if it is beneficial to him or her. The statute of limitations for reporting workplace harassment will also increase from one year to five. Additionally, it allows employers to withhold severance for any employee who is fired for committing workplace harassment.
The legislation received support from the Oregon Commission for Women, especially since women are the frequent target of workplace harassment. Victims are also more likely to be minorities and working in a low-wage industry. Some critics argue that the proposed legislation doesn’t do enough to help previous victims, but supporters remain optimistic about the future.
No matter the circumstances, no one should be the target of any kind of workplace discrimination, including sexual harassment. Oregon’s proposed legislation is a step in the right direction, but in the meantime, victims may want to look into other measures to seek justice. An experienced employment law attorney can answer questions and advise victims of their rights.