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    10.20.17 Professor Minna Kotkin Op-ed on Workplace Sexual Harassment Appears in The Washington Post
    Minna Kotkin

    The U.S. regulatory and judicial systems are complicit in protecting workplace harassers from public exposure and opprobrium, argues Professor Minna Kotkin in her op-ed in the Oct. 22 edition of The Washington Post.

    Kotkin highlights the ways in which harassment cases involving high-profile figures such as Harvey Weinstein, Bill O’Reilly, and Roger Ailes shed light on the much larger issue of how confidentiality agreements and other legal maneuvers keep this conduct under the radar and perpetuate the problem.

    “Confidentiality agreements help protect serial harassers. But with public attention now focused on harassment, victims and their lawyers can shift the balance of power in settlement negotiations,” Kotkin writes.

    The current problem, she contends, is the system through which claims are handled.  

    “Since 1986, when the Supreme Court first recognized that sexual harassment is a form of discrimination, employers and their attorneys have generally insisted that victims who receive financial settlements as a result of harassment allegations sign confidentiality agreements” Kotkin explains. “In my three decades of research and litigation on harassment claims, corporate officials have always insisted that unless settlements are confidential, firms will be overwhelmed by a deluge of accusations, with every disgruntled employee looking for a payout.”

    Kotkin advocates for congressional action to eliminate the secrecy of Equal Employment Opportunity Commission proceedings.

    ”Now is a good time for civil rights and women’s organizations to take up this battle,” she states in the op-ed. “We need an agency database revealing exactly what claims have been filed against a particular employer and what the government found in each case: whether there was ’reasonable cause’ or ’no cause’ to believe there was discrimination. This kind of transparency would go a long way toward ensuring that employers put an end to harassment at the first sign of trouble.” 

    Kotkin is the director of the Law School’s Employment Law Clinic and teaches New York Civil Practice. She has written and lectured extensively on issues of employment discrimination and clinical legal education.

    Read the op-ed here.

    Professor Kotkin also quoted in: How NDAs kept the lid on harassment scandals — and why that might be changing, The Washington Post, Oct. 25, 2017.