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Have You Heard of the Speak Out Act (SOA)? 

The Speak Out Act became law in December 2022. It stops the use of nondisclosure agreements in cases of sexual assault and harassment, which means that survivors can now speak out about their experiences without being silenced by legal contracts. 

Here's a breakdown the SOA:

 

1. If an allegation of conduct violates federal, tribal, or state law in a sexual assault or harassment dispute, any nondisclosure or non disparagement clauses agreed upon before the disagreement can't be enforced by the court.

2. States or localities can still enforce their laws on nondisclosure or non disparagement  clauses as long as they protect the individual's right to speak freely, at least as much as this law does.

3. This law doesn't override any existing federal, state, or tribal laws about using pseudonyms in filing claims related to sexual assault or harassment disputes.

4. Employers and employees can still protect trade secrets and proprietary information; this law doesn't change that. 

While working on the SOA, Congress uncovered some alarming facts about sexual harassment and assault in our society:

1. Sexual harassment and assault are widespread issues affecting millions of Americans.

 

2. A staggering 81% of women and 43% of men have experienced some form of sexual harassment or assault in their lifetime.

3. One in 3 women has faced sexual harassment at work, and the majority never file a formal complaint.

4. Workplace harassment often leads women to leave their jobs or miss out on career opportunities.

5. Victims must be free to report and share their experiences to combat these issues.

6. Agreements with nondisclosure and non disparagement  clauses can silence survivors and protect perpetrators, perpetuating illegal behavior.

7. Congress believes banning such clauses will empower survivors, hold abusers accountable, increase transparency, pursue justice, and create safer and more productive workplaces for everyone. 

Learn more about the Speak Out Act here.

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