U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today applauded the House passage of the bipartisan Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act, legislation she authored to prevent perpetrators from being able to push survivors of sexual harassment and assault into the secretive, biased process of forced arbitration. In addition to ending the practice, the legislation would also invalidate existing forced arbitration clauses that prevent sexual assault and sexual harassment survivors from seeking justice and public accountability under the laws meant to protect them.
Gillibrand first introduced the bill in 2017 and reintroduced it last year alongside her Senate co-lead, Senator Lindsey Graham, House lead Representative Cheri Bustos. They were joined by former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson. It is widely bipartisan in the Senate, where it has ten Republican cosponsors, as well as in the House.
Gillibrand urged the Senate to swiftly take up and pass the legislation.
“This bill is one of the most significant workplace reforms in American history and is a major step forward toward changing a system that uses secrecy to protect perpetrators and silence survivors,” said Gillibrand. “The Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act will void existing forced arbitration agreements for sexual harassment and assault and end their use. It will give survivors their day in court, allow them to discuss their cases publicly and end the days of institutional protection for harassers. I urge the Senate to swiftly take up this bill, pass it and send it to President Biden’s desk.”
Forced arbitration clauses are buried in the fine print of everything from employment agreements and ubiquitous terms and conditions to everyday digital click-through “agreements.” For example, many patients who were sexually assaulted in a nursing home or women pervasively harassed at work are currently unable to tell their story in a public court of law because of forced arbitration.
The bill has been endorsed by American Association for Justice (AAJ), Public Citizen, the National Women’s Law Center, the National Partnership for Women & Families, Futures Without Violence, Jewish Women International, Lift Our Voices, National Alliance to End Sexual Violence, National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, National Domestic Violence Hotline, National Network to End Domestic Violence, RAINN, RALIANCE, and Sexual Violence Prevention Association.