Despite #MeToo glare, efforts to ban secret settlements stop short

The gears are turning slowly because of friction between two competing goals: stopping tomorrow’s harassment from happening and giving today’s victims as much leverage as possible.

Supporters of a ban on confidential settlements say they allow harassers and abusers to prey on others who have no warning. But someone who has been assaulted or harassed may want to keep the details private, or they might be willing to do so if it helps them get a meaningful settlement, something that could help them move on. And a harasser may not be willing to settle if he knows the deal may become public.

In some states where bills were seriously considered, bar associations and business groups have lobbied against them. The California Chamber of Commerce opposed the bill that was eventually passed in that state, saying it would force companies to go to trial to “preserve their public image.”