Cephas, Klunk advance bipartisan sexual harassment bill through Labor and Industry Committee

HARRISBURG, April 20 – During the 20th anniversary of Sexual Assault Awareness Month and falling in line with this year’s theme of “Creating Safe Spaces for All Communities,” state Rep. Morgan Cephas, D-Phila., today announced that her bill that would bolster protections against workplace sexual harassment for all employees in the commonwealth was unanimously approved by the PA House Labor & Industry Committee.

House Bill 938, a bipartisan bill Cephas co-introduced with state Rep. Kate A. Klunk, R-York, would ban the requirement of nondisclosure agreements related to sexual harassment as a condition of getting a job. The bill, however, would not prohibit nondisclosure agreements if both parties voluntarily agree to participate.

The bill also would clarify that nondisclosure agreements formed during the hiring process are to be considered involuntary, while those created during the settlement of a harassment case may be considered voluntary.

Cephas and Klunk pointed to a range of social media activism campaigns (#MeToo, #ItsOnUs, #TimesUp and #EndRapeOnTheNightShift) that have raised awareness of widespread workplace sexual harassment in various career fields, and the devastating retaliation victims have faced for speaking out.

“Recent events that have spurred these key movements shine a light on how under-protected Pennsylvanians are from workplace sexual harassment. However, our bill would provide all employees across our state with the protections they deserve and give employers the tools needed to protect their employees,” Cephas said. “I am thankful for the unanimous support for this crucial bill. I am especially grateful for the ongoing work of the Women’s Law Project, Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape and the business community in guiding us to address this issue through comprehensive policy.”

“Sexual harassment in the workplace creates a toxic environment for those who endure it. Instead of sweeping allegations of sexual harassment under the rug because of these agreements, workers deserve protection and reassurances that they will be heard,” Klunk said. “This is not a partisan issue and that is why I worked with my Democratic colleague, Representative Morgan Cephas, to protect workers and ensure victims of workplace sexual harassment have a voice.”

In the last session year, Cephas’ and Klunk’s legislation, then-H.B. 849, received broad bipartisan support, passing the full House on a vote of 199-0. The legislators remain confident that their current bill will fare similarly as it now goes to the full House for a vote.