Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Lindsey Graham announced the Senate passage of The Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act, now on its way to being signed into law.
The legislation will prevent perpetrators from pushing survivors of sexual harassment and sexual assault into the secretive, biased process of forced arbitration. Furthermore, it seeks to protect sexual assault and sexual harassment survivors and allows them the right to justice and public accountability.
Senator Gillibrand first introduced this bill in 2017. At the time, Gretchen Carlson, Co-founder of Lift Our Voices, previously hosted “Fox & Friends,” but left the network after enduring years of sexual harassment due to the use of forced arbitration to institutionalize protections for harassers and prevent survivors from taking their cases to court.
“Forced arbitration is a harasser’s best friend,” said Carlson. “It keeps harassment complaints and settlements secret. It allows harassers to stay in their jobs, even as victims are pushed out or fired. It silences other victims who may have stepped forward if they’d known. It’s time we as a nation – together – in bipartisan fashion five a voice back to victims.”
The bill was reintroduced in July 2021 by Senators Gillibrand and Graham along with Representatives Cheri Bustos and Morgan Griffith as bipartisan and bicameral legislation.
“Not only does forced arbitration allow corporations to hide sexual harassment and assault cases in a secretive and often biased process, but it shields those who have committed serious misconduct from the public eye, allowing repeat offenders to evade accountability,” said Senator Gillibrand. “The Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act would void forced arbitration provisions for sexual assault and harassment, give survivors their day in court and end institutional protections for harassers. I am proud to introduce this bipartisan and bicameral bill with my colleagues and I commit to passing this critical reform.”
Five years later, Carlson is witnessing the reward of her continual work to end forced arbitration in the workplace with the passage of the bill through both the House and Senate.
“Today’s vote means that this historic bipartisan bill will become law once it is signed by the President – protecting millions of people by making their workplaces safer,” said Carlson. “Every survivor deserves the right to tell their story, and once this change is enshrined in law, it will give those who experienced assault or harassment in the workplace the right to choose how they seek justice.”
“I’m very pleased the Senate has now joined the House of Representatives in passing this important legislation and sending it to President Biden’s desk to sign into law. The days of sexual harassment and sexual assault cases being buried in unfair arbitration clauses are now over,” said Senator Graham. “For far too long, many employment contracts required employees to submit to unfair arbitration procedures instead of allowing them the option of pursuing their day in court. These types of agreements had the chilling effect of shielding misconduct from public scrutiny. Today, thanks to the work of my colleague, Senator Gillibrand, who has been a tireless advocate for this important legislation, these types of unfair agreements come to an end.”