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Klunk's anti-sexual harassment bill on its way to Senate

Logan Hullinger
York Dispatch
Rep. Kate Klunk, of the 169th House District, speaks during the Legislative Panel Discussion on the State Budget as the York County Economic Alliance hosts its Spring Legislative Luncheon at Wyndham Garden York in West Manchester Township, Thursday, May 17, 2018. Dawn J. Sagert photo

It would be illegal for employers to require nondisclosure agreements related to sexual harassment as a condition of employment under legislation unanimously approved by the full Pennsylvania House on Wednesday.

Some employers are “protecting serial harassers among their ranks,” said state Rep. Kate Klunk, R-Hanover, who co-sponsored the bill with state Rep. Morgan Cephas, D-Philadelphia. “They have to come up with ways to protect their talent. This is a tool they’ve been using.”

Klunk said that a Philadelphia Democrat and a Hanover Republican may seem like an unlikely duo, but bipartisan interest arose after hearings on workplace misconduct and sexual harassment in 2018.

Those hearings came the same year that a survey by the nonprofit organization Stop Street Harassment found that 38% of women have been sexually harassed in some manner in the workplace.

The issue gained additional attention during the #MeToo movement, which Klunk said also inspired lawmakers to look into legislation.

While employers would not be allowed to require a nondisclosure agreement under the legislation, employees could agree to enter into a nondisclosure agreement voluntarily.

The bill outlines that both parties can agree to sign a nondisclosure agreement specifically when settling a claim, as victims often want to shield their identities, Klunk added.

The legislation now heads to the Senate. It is unclear when it will come up for a floor vote.

— Logan Hullinger can be reached at lhullinger@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @LoganHullYD.