Bill would enable victims who settle sexual harassment suits with state officials to discuss their allegations

By Carrie Bradon | May 13, 2019

A new bill is on the table in the Louisiana state legislature that would allow sexual harassment victims who settle with state officials to speak out about their experiences.

According to Nola, HB 197 is seeking to increase transparency about sexual harassment by not forcing victims to sign non-disclosure agreements as part of their settlements. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Franklin Foil (R-Baton Rouge), believes victims deserve the right to decide whether or not to speak about their experiences, rather than having the decision made for them.

Bill Quigley, a law professor at Loyola University in New Orleans, commented on the bill and the changes it would bring if passed. 

“If public funds are used, the public should know how they are spent," Quigley told Louisiana Record. “There should be a presumption of transparency.”

Other bills of this nature being considered include state Sen. Sharon Hewitt’s (R-Slidell) SB 182, which would prohibit non-disclosures in addition to compelling the accused wrongdoer through legal routes to recover public money that was spent on the subsequent settlement.

In regards to Foil bill, Quigley believes the principles behind it are not only logical but also just for both the public and the victims.

“Some states suggest the victim should be the one to decide whether or not settlements remain confidential,” Quigley said. “But the principle is a sound one – public funds should be public and the free speech of victims should not be quashed when dealing with public employees.”

Foil’s bill was approved in the House Civil Law and Procedure Committee in April and has been sent to the House. 

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