Underwood Introduces Bipartisan Legislation to Protect Workers, Reduce Workplace Harassment

November 3, 2021
Press Release


WASHINGTON – Today, Rep. Lauren Underwood (IL-14) introduced bipartisan legislation to lift the veil of secrecy surrounding workplace harassment, strengthen employee protections, and increase transparency and accountability to create safer workplaces across America. Underwood introduced the Ending the Monopoly of Power Over Workplace Harassment Through Education and Reporting (EMPOWER) Act with Representatives Lois Frankel (FL-21), Lisa Blunt-Rochester (DE-AL), Jerry Nadler (NY-10), John Katko (NY-24), Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01). A companion bill will be introduced in the Senate by Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI).  


“The EMPOWER Act will help end the culture of silence around workplace harassment which is far too prevalent,” said Underwood. “Employers have overused non-disclosure agreements to force workers to sign away their rights to speak out about harassment, by prohibiting this practice, the EMPOWER Act will help ensure that everyone has a safe and dignified work environment.”


The EMPOWER Act is the most comprehensive bipartisan legislation on workplace harassment. It would: 


  • Ban the use of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) as a condition of employment, which will empower workers to speak out about harassment;  
  • Hold workplaces accountable by requiring publicly-traded companies to disclose harassment-based settlements and awards on annual financial filings;  
  • Close loopholes in the tax code that put taxpayers on the hook for the costs companies incur litigating harassment claims;  
  • End the tax penalty on survivors of workplace harassment who receive damages, and;  
  • Direct the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to create and disseminate resources to help foster safe and respectful workplaces. 


The EMPOWER Act has been endorsed by American Association of University Women, Economic Policy Institute, Human Rights Campaign, Justice for Migrant Women, National Partnership for Women and Families, National Employment Law Association, and The Urban League.