A Massachusetts bill that could prevent employer abuse

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By Alex Solari, Opinions and Editorials Editor

Do you think that companies should be able to waive their employees’ rights to file lawsuits against them? Did you know that this was even allowed? Well, a bill is attempting to be passed in Boston that prohibits this type of behavior that has been going on for quite some time. And honestly, I don’t know why this behavior has been tolerated in the first place. Issues like harassment, sexual misconduct, and retaliation have been forced to be dealt with through arbitration and nondisclosure agreements.

Some argue that this will stop victims from coming forward, like Rep. Diana DiZoglio who told the Boston Herald, “These are silencing tactics”. And although I agree that this may be what deters some victims from coming forward, I think the biggest issue is that companies get away with inappropriate behavior.

Sure, the media might find out about these incidences here and there, but the fact of the matter is with non-disclosure and arbitration agreements, it’s likely that the victim would get in serious trouble for disclosing information about the company. Therefore, no one finds out about these horrific companies, and continues to support them, and more people get hurt. There could be many companies that we support that if we knew the truth about them, we would be appalled.

There is no logical reason why any issues with employees should be hidden.

Take Harvey Weinstein, for instance. He paid off many accusers with large monetary settlements in order to keep his name clear, and this is part of the reason Weinstein wasn’t caught for so long. In fact, according to the New Yorker, Weinstein had been doing this for at least twenty years. In just one instance, Weinstein, along with his brother, Bob, paid off two English women for $250,000 so they wouldn’t speak against Harvey for sexually harassing them. And remember, that’s just one instance.

Imagine how many times Harvey must have paid off women. Imagine if it were illegal to pay someone off in that way. Can you imagine how many less creeps there would be running businesses, and how many less people would be harassed?

You could argue that people would settle things under the table, but victims would have the legal right to sue an employer for inappropriate behavior, which makes it much more likely for creeps to be caught red handed.

One argument people may have is that victims want there to be arbitration or non-disclosure agreements simply because they don’t want the embarrassment and trauma of going through a trial.

For instance, Gloria Allred, a victim’s right attorney who has represented Weinstein’s accusers says that some people don’t want their parents, their friends, members of their community to know” according to the New Yorker. And that very well may be true.

But, victims should have the option to pursue a lawsuit if they wish to.

If a victim wants an arbitration or non-disclosure agreement, then so be it. But, these abusers should be exposed if that is what the victims want.

Also, the fact that victims even feel embarrassed seems to be a problem in our society. Why should victims feel embarrassed for being abused in some way?

Of course this is not the victims fault, but it definitely shows a problem in our society and its views. By making it possible for victims to come forward publicly, I believe that some of the shame may be lifted, especially if more people speak openly about the issue.

So, of course, I think this bill should be passed in Boston. It would be a small feat, and it definitely won’t fix the problem of employer abuse, but it’s a step in the right direction.

Photo Courtesy: WCVB

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