Drawing from NPR and Wall Street Journal articles, below is an overview of a new Senate bill which will ban the practice of using clauses in employment contracts that “force victims of sexual assault and harassment to pursue their cases in forced arbitration, which shields accused perpetrators.”
- Sen. Kirstin Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., introduced the bill five years ago and lawmakers negotiated with business leaders to gain support. Today it was approved by voice vote in the chamber.
- Mandatory-arbitration clauses are usually found in the fine print of documents like employment contracts, financial agreements, ride-share disclosures and leases. They ultimately block consumers and employees from raising claims in court, and instead sending them to arbitrators who “work to resolve complaints privately.”
- The bill gives people a choice between going to court or going to arbitration to resolve allegations in these kinds of cases. The measure is also retroactive—erasing any existing arbitration clause in ongoing cases that might make it difficult for survivors to litigate cases against their employers.
- Gillibrand said this bill represents “one of the most significant workplace reforms in history, with estimates indicating about 60 million Americans are subject to these clauses.”
- Both Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.), the bill’s Republican sponsor, and the lead Democratic sponsor, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.), said in their own statement that “unrelated workplace or consumer complaints shouldn’t be able to escape the mandatory arbitration process unless they are related to sexual-assault or harassment claims.”