Some have called it the “Sexual Harassment” election. The back and forth between the parties about Donald Trump’s sexual harassment cases and Bill Clinton’s past was nauseating. It was hard to keep up with all the stories, tall tales, and truth. Eventually, all the dust settled, and one thing was for sure – sexual harassment had been brought into the spotlight.
While this should be a good thing, many are nervous about what President Trump will do in office. Obama created a number of policies while in office regarding sexual orientation, sexual harassment and discrimination. Many are wondering whether President Trump will rescind all or some of these policies.
No Huge Changes Yet, Except in Missouri
While there is worry from some about how sexual harassment and gender discrimination will be handled by the new administration, most won’t have to worry. The vast majority of the federal laws and protections against sexual harassment in the workplace and on campus will stay the same.
Legislation is currently pending in the Missouri House and Senate to gut Missouri’s anti-discrimination and workplace harassment laws making it more difficult if not impossible for a Missouri citizen to be able to have a civil jury trial in the State of Missouri if they have been the victim of sexual harassment or discrimination in the workplace. While these pending changes to the Missouri Human Rights Act and pushes to force employees into secret company sponsored arbitrations rather than a trial with a judge and jurors or not new, in the past years, these changes have been vetoed by the sitting Governor. Unfortunately our current governor, Governor Greitens, has indicated that he supports these changes to our laws weakening employee protections. It should be noted that Governor Greitens accepted approximately six million dollars in “dark money” campaign contributions from unidentified corporations, who are also the only ones to benefit from weakening Missouri’s employee protections.
What is Likely to Change in the Federal Laws
Rescinding federal laws and acts seems to be out of the questions right now. However, there may be some changes regarding sexual harassment stemming from the Trump presidency. While many applaud the potential changes, there is some worry from others.
Republicans have criticized certain aspects of Title IX (the law that gives some protection from gender discrimination in higher education) for quite some time. While rescinding the act created to offer total equality in education is probably not going to happen, there are changes on the horizon. Many suspect that Trump could alter funding to these types of programs.
Others are concerned that he will change the “preponderance of evidence” standards that have been modified over the years through Title IX. This could force universities to handle accusations of sexual harassment in a much different manner than before – while opening up the schools to individual legal issues.
“Dear Colleague” Changes
The Obama administration and the Department of Education sent a letter dubbed, “Dear Colleague” to universities demanding that they recognize sexual harassment and assault as a form of harassment that is outlawed under Title IX. This changed how the law was interpreted.
Many surmise that Trump’s administration will revoke this letter and change how Title IX is interpreted during his tenure as President. Many sexual harassment advocates find the possibility of the changes quite worrisome.
Sexual Harassment and a Trump Presidency
As a sexual harassment lawyer in Kansas City, we’ll be paying attention to changes in the field over the next four years.