Text: H.R.4729 — 115th Congress (2017-2018)All Information (Except Text)

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Introduced in House (12/21/2017)

 
[Congressional Bills 115th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]
[H.R. 4729 Introduced in House (IH)]

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115th CONGRESS
  1st Session
                                H. R. 4729

 To require annual reporting by employers of the number of settlements 
with employees regarding claims of discrimination on the basis of sex, 
    including verbal and physical sexual harassment, and for other 
                               purposes.


_______________________________________________________________________


                    IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

                           December 21, 2017

   Mrs. Carolyn B. Maloney of New York (for herself, Mr. Khanna, Mr. 
Cummings, Ms. Norton, Ms. Shea-Porter, Mr. Connolly, Mr. David Scott of 
   Georgia, Mr. Raskin, Mr. Suozzi, Ms. Kuster of New Hampshire, Ms. 
 Moore, Mrs. Dingell, and Mr. Pallone) introduced the following bill; 
   which was referred to the Committee on Education and the Workforce

_______________________________________________________________________

                                 A BILL


 
 To require annual reporting by employers of the number of settlements 
with employees regarding claims of discrimination on the basis of sex, 
    including verbal and physical sexual harassment, and for other 
                               purposes.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE; FINDINGS.

    (a) Short Title.--This Act may be cited as the ``Ending Secrecy 
About Workplace Sexual Harassment Act''.
    (b) Findings.--Congress finds that the following:
            (1) Thirty years after the United States Supreme Court held 
        in Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson that sexual harassment 
        creates a hostile or abusive work environment and is a 
        violation of title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, sexual 
        harassment remains a widespread problem, affecting victims in 
        every industry, at every level of employment.
            (2) In fiscal year 2015, almost one-third of the 90,000 
        charges filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission 
        involved harassment, and nearly a quarter of those harassment 
        charges involved sexual harassment. Of the total number of 
        charges received that alleged harassment from employees working 
        for private employers or for State and local government 
        employers, approximately 45 percent alleged harassment on the 
        basis of sex.
            (3) According to the Commission's Select Task Force in 
        2016, on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace, the 
        prevalence of such harassment--
                    (A) causes mental and physical harm to the victim, 
                as the study concluded that ``employees experiencing 
                sexual harassment are more likely to report symptoms of 
                depression, general stress and anxiety, posttraumatic 
                stress disorder (PTSD), and overall impaired 
                psychological well-being'';
                    (B) results in harms, which are not limited to 
                victims, as the study concluded that ``employees, 
                female and male alike, who observed hostility directed 
                toward female coworkers (both incivility and sexually 
                harassing behavior) were more likely to experience 
                lower psychological well-being'', which were ``in turn 
                linked to lower physical well-being''.
            (4) Prevalence of sexual harassment in the workplace causes 
        substantial financial harm to victims, as they often try to 
        avoid the harassing behavior by taking leave without pay or 
        leaving the workplace entirely, resulting in a loss of wages. 
        The U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board's 1995 report on Sexual 
        Harassment in the Federal Workplace found sexual harassment 
        cost Federal employees $4.4 million between 1992 and 1994.
            (5) According to Commission records, from fiscal year 2010 
        to 2016, U.S. companies have paid out more than $295 million in 
        public penalties over sexual harassment claims. This sum does 
        not include any private settlements or internally resolved 
        complaints about which there is limited public information.
            (6) The Commission is responsible for enforcing Federal 
        anti-discrimination laws that protect job applicants and 
        employees, and has the authority to investigate charges of 
        discrimination against employers who are covered by the law.
            (7) The Commission does not currently receive disclosures 
        from employers on annual EEO-1 reports regarding claims of 
        discrimination on the basis of sex, including verbal and 
        physical sexual harassment made directly to the employer and 
        resolved internally through out-of-court settlements or other 
        mediation.

SEC. 2. EMPLOYER REPORTING REQUIREMENT.

    (a) Reporting Requirement.--Every employer required to submit to 
the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission an Employer Information 
Report EEO-1 shall include in such report the number of settlements 
reached by the employer with an employee in the resolution of claims 
pertaining to discrimination on the basis of sex, including verbal and 
physical sexual harassment.
    (b) Required Reporting.--Examples of settlements required to be 
reported under this section include any agreement where anything of 
value is conferred to the individual raising the claim in return for 
such individual declining to further pursue the claim, any internal 
mediation or other workplace resolution that results in the individual 
declining to further pursue the claim.
    (c) Examples of Offensive Conduct That Constitute Sexual 
Harassment.--Claims pertaining to sexual harassment are those that 
complain of acts such as the following--
            (1) inappropriate or unwanted touching;
            (2) verbal comments about sex or of a sexual nature, which 
        may include comments to an individual about her or his body or 
        sexual or romantic activity or the body or sexual or romantic 
        activity of the individual making the comments;
            (3) referring to another individual by a name or nickname 
        of a romantic, demeaning, or sexual nature;
            (4) inappropriate gestures of a sexual nature;
            (5) unwanted proposals for sexual activity;
            (6) showing another individual photos or other images that 
        are sexually explicit or are otherwise of a sexual nature; or
            (7) undue attention to or questions about a person's sexual 
        relationships, sexual history, sexual orientation, or gender 
        identity.

SEC. 3. RIGHTS OF EMPLOYEES.

    (a) Protection From Retaliation.--
            (1) Conduct prohibited.--An employer may not terminate any 
        employee nor discriminate against any such employee with 
        regards to terms and conditions of employment because such 
        employee--
                    (A) inquires about an employer's meeting of the 
                requirements of this Act; or
                    (B) complains about an employer's failure to meet 
                the requirements of this Act.
            (2) Enforcement.--
                    (A) Liability.--In addition to civil rights 
                protections and remedies for retaliation available 
                under other Federal, State, or local law, any employer 
                who violates paragraph (1) shall be liable to any 
                eligible employee affected for--
                            (i) damages equal to the amount of any 
                        wages, salary, employment benefits, or other 
                        compensation denied or lost to such employee by 
                        reason of the violation;
                            (ii) the interest on the amount described 
                        in clause (i) calculated at the prevailing 
                        rate;
                            (iii) an additional amount as liquidated 
                        damages equal to the sum of the amount 
                        described in clause (i) and the interest 
                        described in clause (ii); and
                            (iv) such equitable relief as may be 
                        appropriate, including employment, 
                        reinstatement, and promotion.
                    (B) Right of action.--An action to recover the 
                damages or equitable relief prescribed in subparagraph 
                (1) may be maintained against any employer in any 
                Federal or State court of competent jurisdiction by any 
                one or more employees for and on behalf of--
                            (i) the employee or employees; or
                            (ii) the employees and other employees 
                        similarly situated.
                    (C) Fees and costs.--The court in such an action 
                shall, in addition to any judgment awarded to the 
                plaintiff, allow a reasonable attorney's fee, 
                reasonable expert witness fees, and other costs of the 
                action to be paid by the defendant.
    (b) Confidentiality Agreements and Settlements.--
            (1) Rule of construction.--Nothing in this Act shall be 
        construed to interfere with the right of an employee to enter 
        into a confidentiality agreement with his or her employer with 
        respect to a claim of discrimination on the basis of sex, 
        including verbal and physical sexual harassment, the 
        investigation of such a claim, or the out-of-court settlement 
        of such a claim.
            (2) Limitations on agreements.--
                    (A) An employer may not use a confidentiality 
                agreement described in paragraph (1) as a basis for not 
                submitting the information required by section 2.
                    (B) A confidentiality agreement described in 
                paragraph (1) shall not be construed as prohibiting any 
                party to such agreement from cooperating with law 
                enforcement investigations into any claims of 
                discrimination on the basis of sex, including verbal 
                and physical sexual harassment.

SEC. 4. EEOC REPORT TO CONGRESS.

    The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission shall annually report 
to Congress information relating to claims of discrimination on the 
basis of sex, including verbal and physical sexual harassment, 
including--
            (1) the number of settlements that were reported to the 
        Commission as defined by and reported pursuant to section 2;
            (2) the number of charges alleging discrimination on the 
        basis of sex that were reported to the Equal Employment 
        Opportunity Commission, including verbal and physical sexual 
        harassment made directly to the Commission; and
            (3) a summary of any action taken by the Commission based 
        upon any such charges or complaints collected pursuant to this 
        Act, such as litigation or settlements facilitated by the 
        Commission pertaining to discrimination on the basis of sex, 
        including verbal and physical sexual harassment, including a 
        brief description of any outcome of such actions.

SEC. 5. GAO STUDY AND REPORT.

    The Comptroller General of the United States shall conduct a 
comprehensive study of discrimination on the basis of sex, including 
verbal and physical sexual harassment involving Federal employees and 
shall report to Congress not later than one year after the date of 
enactment of this Act the results of such study and recommendations for 
legislation or other action for improving transparency regarding claims 
of discrimination on the basis of sex, including verbal and physical 
sexual harassment, and recommendations for legislation or other action 
for improving employer accountability and transparency regarding such 
claims.
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