Senate passes bill to end forced arbitration in sex harassment cases in the workplace

On Thursday, the Senate passed a bill barring forced arbitration in workplace sexual harassment cases. The measure, which the House had overwhelmingly passed earlier this week, will go to President Joe Biden to be signed into law. The bill bars employment contracts from forcing people to settle sexual assault or harassment cases through arbitration rather than in court, a process that often benefits employers and keeps misconduct allegations from becoming public.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., sponsored the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act. Gillibrand said in a press statement: “I am thrilled to announce that the historic Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act has passed the Senate and is now headed to President Biden’s desk,” adding that the bill is “one of the most significant workplace reforms in the last 50 years and is a major step forward toward changing a system that uses secrecy to protect perpetrators and silence survivors.”

Graham said in a statement: “I’m very pleased the Senate has now joined the House of Representatives in passing this important legislation and sending it to President Biden’s desk to sign into law. The days of sexual harassment and sexual assault cases being buried in unfair arbitration clauses are now over.”

The legislation would invalidate existing forced arbitration clauses in employment contracts that prevent sexual assault and sexual harassment survivors from seeking justice and public accountability under the laws meant to protect them.

Editorial credit: lev radin / Shutterstock.com

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