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Proposed law to change sexual harassment protocol falls short

With the number of sexual harassment claims that are coming up in Louisiana and across the U.S., it is important to understand the various laws that the state has implemented to deal with them. In some cases, workers are required to sign contracts as part of their terms of employment that any sexual harassment claim will be settled in arbitration rather than civil court. This is just one example of employment law that employers and employees must be aware of.

A proposed law that would no longer allow employers to require employees to sign a contract that prevented them from suing for sexual harassment was rejected in the Louisiana House. It failed by a 50-42 tally. It required 53 votes to move forward. The idea was to stop the requirement that arbitration be used to settle sexual harassment cases. The implication is that it goes too far in protecting the alleged harassers and it is a discourages victims from reporting what has happened.

Those who opposed the bill said that it is a well-intentioned idea, but it interferes with private companies' business. Arbitration is said to be more cost-effective and gives privacy not just to employers, but to the victims as well. The bill was also set to stop forced arbitration for veterans who assert they have faced discrimination because of their military history.

While employers are often portrayed as the "bad guy" in these cases, there are reasons why protective stipulations are in place and it is vital that private and public sector employers who are facing sexual harassment allegations understand changes and proposed changes. If, for example, the case is shown to be lacking proof or was an outright fabrication, an employer will still be required to handle the aftermath even if they have been exonerated.

This is just one issue that an employer must be cognizant of when running a business and it makes it imperative to have a law firm that looks at issues from the perspective of the business. When an employer is dealing with sexual harassment claims, needs to protect from lawsuits, is alleged to have violated employment regulations, or is dealing with disagreements over employment contracts, having a law firm that is experienced in business matters is essential and should be a top priority with any business.

Source: usnews.com, "Ban on Forced Arbitration in Sexual Harassment Claims Fails," Melinda Deslatte, March 26, 2018

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