Lawmakers in Congress from both the Republican and Democrat parties recently introduced the “Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Harassment Act”. This piece of legislation is designed to prevent companies from enforcing mandatory arbitration agreements in employment contracts in cases where employees allege workplace sexual harassment. The amendment to title 9 of the United States Code with respect to arbitration would cover any “dispute between an employer and employee arising out of conduct that would form the basis of a claim based on sex under title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964” “regardless of whether a violation of title VII is alleged.” Employees would have the option of taking their claims to court if the bill becomes law. As for collective bargaining agreements, it specifies that no arbitration provision in such an agreement “shall have the effect of waiving the right of an employee to seek judicial enforcement of a right arising under a provision of the Constitution of the United States, a State constitution, or a Federal or State statute, or public policy arising therefrom.”
Senator Lindsey Graham and other lawmakers argued that mandatory arbitration clauses buried in employment contracts create an environment which protects the abusers from public scrutiny and keeps the harassed employees from getting their story out to the public. Lawmakers asked business groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to support the bill saying it is going to lead America to a better business environment.
On January 17, 2018, attorney Carl Habekost will host a free 1 hour webinar on sexual harassment in the workplace. To learn more about this topic, register now.