Congress Approves Bill to Nullify Forced Arbitration in Sex Abuse Cases

Rheingold, Giuffra, Ruffo & Plotkin LLP strongly welcomes the news that last Thursday, the Senate passed legislation that will end forced arbitration for workers who are victims of sexual assault and harassment.

This marks one of the most significant changes to employment law in years.

This measure was passed unanimously by a voice vote after gaining an overwhelming amount of bipartisan support in the House. This bill will now be sent to President Joe Biden’s desk to be formally signed into law.

Under this new legislation, employers are prohibited from forcing workers to settle sexual misconduct claims in closed-door arbitration venues which often favor the alleged perpetrators. Instead, employees will now be able to file suit in court with their own chosen legal representation.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a strong supporter of the legislation stated: “This is among the largest workplace reforms, certainly in our lifetimes.”

Currently, approximately 60 million U.S. workers are subject to forced arbitration, which in addition to sexual harassment claims, also resolve discrimination and pay disparity claims.

This happens due to clauses tucked into employees' contracts which force them to settle any and all sexual misconduct cases in private arbitration, instead of in court. This widespread practice has gained resistance due to the wake of the #MeToo movement.

This legislation’s ban on forced arbitration would begin immediately, and also retroactively apply to all previously resolved claims (unless a case is pending).

In order to gain broad bipartisan support, this legislation was limited purely to sexual assault and harassment, instead of including other forms of discrimination such as gender.

The bill will still allow workers to opt for arbitration if that is their preference, however, it will also give them the opportunity to seek justice in court.

Our New York attorneys have years of experience representing sexual abuse victims and are delighted that many victims will now have the opportunity to seek justice within the courts.

If you or a loved one has been a victim of sexual abuse or assault, please contact us today to set up a free consultation. We will support you throughout your case and will be there every step of the way to answer your questions.