AFL-CIO asks Angela Merkel to end T-Mobile gag order

WASHINGTON – Today, in a letter sent to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the National Women’s Law Center (NLWC), the AFL-CIO, and seven other leading women’s organizations asked the German government, a major shareholder of Deutsche Telekom, to press T-Mobile to abandon an employee gag order policy that violates U.S. law and restricts workers’ ability to address sexual harassment and other discrimination.

According to an August, 2015 judicial decision, T-Mobile call centers in Maine and South Carolina required employees who brought complaints of sexual harassment or other forms of discrimination to human resources to sign a non-disclosure agreement that prohibited them from discussing their experiences with anyone other than T-Mobile during the company’s investigation.  As a result, employees were forbidden from banding together with others who experienced the same harassment or discrimination, and were illegally deterred from bringing complaints with enforcement agencies such as the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission.

The following is a statement by Emily Martin, Vice President and General Counsel at the National Women’s Law Center:

“U.S. workers have a basic right to speak out and challenge sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace without fear of facing retaliation or losing their jobs.  By threatening employees who talk publicly about sexual harassment or other workplace abuses, T-Mobile’s gag order policy violates this right.  Indeed, T-Mobile’s policy threatens workers to remain silent or risk their job.  We hope that the German government, as a major shareholder of T-Mobile’s parent company, will urge T-Mobile to quickly reform its practices to respect workers’ voices and obey the law.”

Photo: Angela Merkel   |   AP


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