January 31, 2022 | Priya Elangovan
Updated March 3, 2022: The bill was passed by both houses of Congress and is currently waiting to be signed into law by President Biden
Congress will soon vote on the bipartisan Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act of 2021 (HR4445/S2342). Versions of this bill have been negotiated since the start of the #MeToo movement in 2016. This bill will prevent forced arbitration from being used in cases involving sexual assault or harassment, giving survivors the choice of how they want to handle their cases. It also invalidates forced arbitration clauses in contracts that have already been signed by employees, and prevents them from being used going forward.
This bill will have the biggest impact on survivors who were harassed or assaulted at work, as many employers mandate arbitration instead of court in employment contracts. Since these contracts are usually signed before someone begins working, many people don’t realize the situation until they seek help. According to a 2018 Economic Policy Institute study, 54% of non-union private-sector workers, about 60 million workers, have forced arbitration clauses in their contracts.
How to Learn More and Take Action
- Several survivors shared powerful testimony in a Congressional hearing in November which illustrating the impact this legislation will have
- Contact your representatives and share your stories and opinions on this legislation
- If you have experienced harassment at work, or are looking for resources to share with your workplace, Workplaces Respond’s National Resource Center can help