Society Can’t Fix a Non-disclosable Problem

The #MeToo movement has continued its efforts to change the culture of workplace sexual harassment by putting their money where their mouth is. New Year’s Day the Time’s Up initiative was announced, with stated goals that include fighting sexual assault in blue-collar workplaces across the country. One of their missions is to “discourage the use of non-disclosure agreements to silence victims,” according to the

Previously, the Patriotic Millionaires have written of the serious harm Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) present to victims of sexual harassment, and how companies’ reliance on such agreements propagate harassment culture that not only makes workplaces unsafe, but unlikely for long term growth and job creation. That’s why we support the Time’s Up movement  — for both moral and economical reasons.

Sexual harassment can happen to anyone at anytime, and the #MeToo movement has done an exemplary job of showcasing how workplace harassment, specifically in Hollywood, has shaped the industry and careers of dozens of dozens of women. In 2018, the movement has made it their goal to include blue-collar workers and the sexual intimidation, bullying, and assault they face  in a way that has not been highlighted in the past. Acknowledging how an individual’s financial situation plays a role in their ability to stand up to workplace harassment is key to this pivot. It is only by hearing from the victims that perpetrators will understand that their female colleagues need to be treated just like their male counterparts, that they were hired and deserve to earn a paycheck free of workplace violence just like the men.

When companies have a policy of settling sexual harassment claims with financial settlements shrouded in paperwork and NDAs, new and prospective employees are entrusting their careers to  workplace cultures they are not fully informed of and might fall victim to. This is especially problematic for low-wage workers, who may not have the financial means or ability to move from gainful employment as easily as those in white-collar jobs. In many instances, they will be forced to suffer rather than leave the career of their choice, and their lack of motivation and constant subjection to harassment will weaken productivity.

Our country’s values are counter to NDAs. The seventh amendment, guarantees a constitutional right to jury trials, and by pressuring employees to sign NDAs, victims of sexual harassment, particularly those of little means, will have to choose between their constitutional right and a paycheck. That is why the Time’s Up initiative’s legal defense fund, which is currently backed by $13 million, is particularly important for victims of sexual harassment who are not financially able to push back against corporate pressure to sign NDAs.

With every new year, the country is given the chance to work towards new goals and make the world more equitable. Tarana Burke, the founder of the #MeToo movement, wrote that 2018 will be about “helping women navigate what happens after they disclose an experience.” The creation of a legal defense fund and the calls to end NDAs prove that the movement is just gaining traction, and we Patriotic Millionaires believe that by listening to and empowering victims America can truly be great.

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