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US House to Consider Restricting Some #MeToo Nondisclosure Pacts

Nov. 9, 2022, 7:30 PM

The US House is expected to vote next week on legislation that would invalidate some nondisclosure agreements in instances when workers allege sexual harassment and assault, a final hurdle before the bill would be sent for President Joe Biden’s signature.

The bill, known as the SPEAK Out Act, would apply only to nondisclosure agreements signed before a dispute arises—not those signed as part of a settlement. The Senate passed the bill under unanimous consent in September.

Nondisclosure agreements emerged as one of the many barriers workers faced when trying to come forward with allegations of sexual harassment during the #MeToo movement. The bill narrowly addresses the issue, though some legal scholars see this as only a start.

The bill has had bipartisan support in both the House and Senate, but still drew opposition from employers like Uber Technologies Inc., who lobbied to focus its purview even more.

If the lower chamber passes the bill, it will be the second piece of pro-worker legislation to clear both the House and Senate this congress, after a bill banning mandatory arbitration for workers alleging #MeToo claims was signed into law earlier this year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Paige Smith in Washington at psmith@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Genevieve Douglas at gdouglas@bloomberglaw.com; Rebekah Mintzer at rmintzer@bloombergindustry.com