Politics

Congress moves to end forced arbitration for sexual misconduct cases

The U.S. House has passed legislation barring contracts that force 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. The measure passed on and 335-97 House vote.

“For far too long, Americans who experience sexual harassment or assault in the workplace have been forced into the shadows, compelled to sign secretive arbitration agreements that protect their employers from liability and often shield offenders from accountability,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement after the Monday vote.

She said the legislation sends “a clear signal to survivors across our nation that they deserve the freedom to seek justice and to make their voices heard.” The Senate is expected to vote on and approve the bill within the next two weeks, sending it to President Joe Biden for his signature.

Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand, who pushed the legislation and has been vocal in the Senate about curbing sexual harassment and assault, said the measure is long overdue, having first been introduced in 2017.

An estimated 60 million American workers have the clauses in their employment contracts, Gillibrand said, but she noted the practice is not just used in employment contracts.

“I would say very few people realize they’ve agreed to this,” the senator said in an interview Tuesday. “It’s not something that people read in their employment contracts. It’s in the fine print and even if it’s there and they read it, they don’t even necessarily know what it means.”

Former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson, who accused the now-deceased network CEO Roger Ailes of making unwanted advances and harming her career when she rejected him, testified in support of the legislation. Binding arbitration was used in some employee contracts at the network.

Some companies, including Facebook, Uber and Microsoft have on their own decided to end the practice forced arbitration for sexual misconduct claims.

ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH 

MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE

PHOTO CREDITS: FORBES

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Paul, 37, is from Scotland in the UK, but currently lives and works in Bangkok. Paul has worked in different industries such as telemarketing, retail, hospitality, farming, insurance, and teaching, where he works now. He teaches at an all-girls High School in Bangkok. “It’s a lot of work, but I love my job.” Paul has an active interest in politics. His reason for writing for FBA is to offer people the facts and allow them to make up their own minds. Whilst he believes opinion columns have their place, it is also important that people can have accurate news with no bias.

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