Speak Out Act

Floor Speech

Date: Nov. 16, 2022
Location: Washington, DC


Ms. JAYAPAL. Madam Speaker, I rise in strong support of this bipartisan, bicameral Speak Out Act. I thank Representative Lois Frankel and the chairman for their leadership.

This bill bans forced nondisclosure agreements in assault and harassment disputes and preserves the right of survivors to use their voices.

Women across this country have been told for a long time what constitutes appropriate behavior, what constitutes sexual harassment, and what doesn't. Well, let me tell you, it is time to let them speak up and shine a light on exactly what is happening.

The reality is that estimates are that a third of employees in the United States are covered by these NDAs.

Last year, we heard stories of exactly this situation in the Judiciary Committee. Last year, Tatiana Spottiswoode bravely testified under the protection of a friendly subpoena about the harassment and abuse that she endured from her boss and former CEO, Zia Chishti. Previously, Tatiana had been bound by a gag order that silenced her and prevented accountability for her abuser.

Madam Speaker, after her moving testimony, after bringing light and being able to talk about the horror that she experienced, Chishti was finally fired. He was finally held accountable. In fact, the former British Prime Minister resigned from the company's advisory board after that happened.

Why should she have been silenced in the first place? Why should she have been raped or any other woman been raped and bound to silence because of a nondisclosure agreement that was forced, in many cases, in order for these women to be able to actually have employment? That is absolutely wrong.

Why should women be forced to feel alone, feel like somehow this is their fault, that they are crazy? They should be able to talk about what has happened and bring light to the situation.

The reality is, Madam Speaker, this is about power. This is about who holds the power and how it is held.

That is why we need the Speak Out Act to be passed. It is the only way to make sure that we bring transparency and light to this.


Ms. JAYAPAL. Madam Speaker, for millions of survivors across the country who deserve to have their voices heard, vote ``yes'' on S. 4524. I thank those people on the other side of the aisle who agree with us and know that this is the right thing to do.