What's inside your contract? Taking a closer look at sexual harassment in the workplace

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- Reports show workplace harassment isn’t going anywhere.

Some say there is a way to help victims but contracts stop them from doing it.

"Employers fight hard to keep it secret," Scott Oswald with The Employment Law Group said. (https://www.employmentlawgroup.com/our-team/attorneys-staff/attorneys/r-scott-oswald/)

Oswald used to represent the employers in harassment cases, but said when he realized what was inside some contracts he switched sides.

He said clauses called ‘arbitration agreements’ effectively stop employees from speaking out. They’re agreements between the employees and employers that call for settling disputes without going to court. He said they allow employers to restrict access to crucial information.

“No matter what happens in arbitration, effectively, you’re stuck. You can’t appeal it to any court, or to any higher authority," he added.

Oswald said many employees don’t know what they’re getting into when they’re signing stacks of paperwork. But others defend the agreements. They said it really could end up being the best option for the employee.

"There are certain things about arbitration that frankly actually are more beneficial for the people bringing these claims than they are the employer," Frank Morris a employer lawyer with Epstein, Becker, Green said. (https://www.ebglaw.com/frank-c-morris-jr/).

Morris defended employers in these cases. He said if they go to court it could be easily dismissed. Morris said an arbitrator will almost always give both sides the chance to be heard. He believes there is a common ground for handling these cases.

“I think we should all be united in seeing to it that workplaces are free of sexual harassment and we ought not to lose sight of the fact that in some cases different strategies for vindicating those rights may make sense in particular circumstances," he added.

Some lawmakers on Capitol Hill are working to get rid of these agreements but that effort is stalled.



 
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