Earlier this week, it seemed that a bill requiring employers to conduct additional training on sexual harassment matters was a no-brainer to pass the General Assembly.
After all, Senate Bill 132 passed 31-5 in the state Senate and in this #metoo environment (not to mention local elections in the fall), the House looked to be a near certainty.
But a lot can happen in a few days, and some of the bill’s more controversial provisions were simply too much for the bill to overcome.
Thus, employers do not yet have to worry about the new training requirements and changes to the state’s anti-discrimination laws.
That said, employers still need to follow existing state law regarding training of supervisors (if applicable) and should still exercise caution in dealing with cases of harassment.
One bill that did receive passage late last night was Senate Bill 175, which I haven’t talked much about.
That bill makes a number of changes to government and quasi-public agencies. (In other words, these aren’t applicable to private employers).
- Beginning October 1, 2018, the bill generally prohibits state and quasi-public agencies from making a payment in excess of $50,000 to a departing employee in order to avoid litigation costs or as part of a non-disparagement agreement. Under the bill, “state agency” means executive branch agencies, boards, councils, commissions, and the constituent units of higher education.
- For state agencies, the bill allows such a payment if (1) it is made under a settlement agreement that the attorney general enters into on the agency’s behalf or (2) the governor, upon the attorney general’s recommendation, authorized it in order to settle a disputed claim by or against the state.
- It also specifies that, any settlement or non-disparagement agreement cannot prohibit a state agency employee from making a complaint or providing information in accordance with the whistleblower or false claims act.
- Similarly, any settlement or non-disparagement agreement cannot prohibit a quasi-public agency employee from making a complaint or providing information under the whistleblower law.
For readers who work for the government, these particular provisions — namely seeking approval from the AG’s office — should be reviewed over the next few months.