The Speak Out Act Is a Step Forward, But Congress Must Act to Provide Full Protection to All Workers

(Washington, D.C.) This afternoon, the House passed the bipartisan Speak Out Act (S.4525) by a vote of 315-109. The Senate previously passed the bill by unanimous consent on September 29, 2022.

The Speak Out Act will stop employers from silencing survivors by blocking enforcement of pre-dispute non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) in instances where sexual harassment or sexual assault has been alleged in violation of Federal, Tribal, or State law.

The following is a statement by Fatima Goss Graves, President and CEO of the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC):

“Workplace sexual harassment is pervasive and flourishes in silence. Today’s passage of the Speak Out Act—made possible by the bravery of survivors—marks an important step by prohibiting many employer gag orders and giving survivors the right to publicly tell their stories of sexual assault and harassment. Survivors’ ability to speak out about sexual abuse will help prevent employers from simply sweeping this scourge under the rug and evading accountability. But we must go further. Too many individuals who are disproportionately marginalized by harassment are not fully protected by this bill. Survivors who, for example, experience both sexual harassment and racial slurs at work will only be partly protected from employer silencing. We may see employers impose non-disclosure agreements to stop workers from speaking out about other forms of harassment and nondiscrimination. Women of color and women with disabilities are especially likely to face harassment, and our laws should fully protect against harassment based on race and disability, in addition to that based on sex. Every person deserves safety, dignity, and equal opportunity at work.”