Katz Banks Kumin partner Debra Katz was quoted in articles for the New York Times, CNN, FiveThirtyEight, and the Washington Post about the fallout on Capitol Hill from revelations of sexual harassment committed by high profile politicians and Congressmen.
Much has been made of the harassers and their futures, but efforts to prevent future issues lie in fixing the underlying problem. As it stands, the law according to Ms. Katz is “very stacked in favor of members and others accused of sexual harassment, to the detriment to someone who has suffered sexual harassment or other discrimination at the Capitol.”
Forced confidentiality creates an extremely hostile process for victims. They cannot speak to anybody during the investigation, and are prohibited from going public after signing the non-disclosure agreement that accompanies a settlement. “People feel completely trapped and unable to move forward in their lives,” explains Ms. Katz. “NDAs don't allow them to heal. They can't talk about it and can't recover."
There have been efforts in Congress to pass new laws that would override the 1995 legislation that implemented the current system for reporting sexual harassment. A major clause of this bill would publicly identify those who are involved in claims and use taxpayer money to pay victims’ settlements. Whether this clause should apply retroactively is up for debate. Ms. Katz told the New York Times that many of her former clients would rather not revisit that event. “They settled their cases to be able to move on with their lives while protecting their privacy.”
Ms. Katz was also interviewed for a segment for Deutsche Welle, a German international broadcaster, which can be viewed here.