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The Birmingham Business Journal Quotes Balch Partner Doug Kauffman on the Impact of the Speak Out Act on Employers

Doug Kauffman, partner in the firm’s Birmingham office and member of the Labor and Employment Practice, interviewed with the Birmingham Business Journal (BBJ) about the new Speak Out Act and the impact on Alabama’s employers. 

The Speak Out Act, passed in the wake of the #MeToo movement, prohibits employers’ use of non-disclosure agreements with respect to those who allege sexual harassment.  The new law became effective immediately following the President’s signature on December 7, 2022. 

In the article published December 29, 2022, Doug laid out what employers can be doing to make sure they are in compliance with the new law, and explained how this measure is aimed at the prevention of sexual harassment in the workplace.

Doug said employers should make sure their sexual harassment policies have provisions that clearly address what is prohibited by the employer, the mechanisms to report sexual harassment and provide assurances of thorough and confidential investigation in the event of sexual harassment. He added that it is important that companies’ policies prohibit any form of retaliation for reporting sexual harassment issues.  

Doug, whose practice focuses on counseling large and small employers on the laws, regulations, and best practices with respect to employment compliance, added that there’s no need for employers to modify, or go back and change any existing non-disclosure agreements that are in place, based on the new law. 

“They can leave them in place, but just know that they’re not going to be enforceable to basically keep somebody from raising sexual harassment or sexual assault issues,” Doug told the BBJ.