The state of Washington has had a very busy legislative year, in the harassment related areas, which is very. A few crucial areas of expansion is the state’s Equal Pay law and the added protection of employees who are victims of employment discrimination. The state passed stronger sexual harassment laws designed to the workplace end the secrecy generally attached to sexual harassment claims.
These specific 2018 new laws include:
- Sexual harassment claims in employment agreements (SB 6313)
- Sexual harassment policies (SB 6471)
- These Washington State harassment measures very specifically protect employees’ rights to discuss workplace sexual harassment claims, without fear of retaliation, from their employer.
Disclosure of sexual harassment in the workplace (SB 5996) & (SB 6313)
This new law “encourages the disclosure and discussion of sexual harassment and assault in the workplace.” This law strictly prohibits an employer from stipulating that an employee must sign a nondisclosure agreement, This new law eliminated both the fear of retaliation & employment security issues. Effective June 7, 2018.
The rationale behind SB 6313 was to preserve an employee’s right to file a complaint about harassment, or sexual assault in employment contracts. Additionally, this law states that a clause in a workplace contract is null and void if it requires an employee to waive their rights to:
- Pursue a legal action for discrimination under Washington State’s anti-discrimination law
- Initiate legal action under federal anti-discrimination laws of 1964
The law is effective June 7, 2018.
Sexual harassment policies (SB 6471)
This new law will allow employers to adopt and pursue a professional educational curriculum in the areas of harassment & discrimination. This law suggests that the Human Rights Commission will work with the business community to develop educational policies that keep workplaces safe from sexual harassment. The Commission and the Department of Labor and Industries will post the model policies of harassment guidelines on their respective websites early this year.
It is suggested the curriculum include the following:
- Create a workplace environment of “Zero Tolerance” for sexual harassment.
- Human resource departments along with workplace managers must enforce sexual harassment policies
- Eliminate the fear of retaliation, which frequently accompanies harassment claims.
- Create a workplace environment where these topics may be freely discussed, without penalty.
- Ask the employee’s about the best policies regarding sexual harassment prevention.
- HR must use new hire orientations to emphasize sexual harassment prevention methods.
- Hold managers & company executives responsible for creating this new “Zero Tolerance” harassment environment.
- Must include workplace seminar training for all employees.
If your company needs sexual harassment or harassment training in Washington, click here to see Employee Harassment Training’s Washington trainers.