Nov 04 2021

Graham, Gillibrand Legislation To Empower Sexual Assault And Harassment Survivors Passes Senate Judiciary Committee

WASHINGTON – Legislation introduced by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York) and Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) that would stop perpetrators from being able to push survivors of sexual harassment and assault into the secretive, and often biased process of forced arbitration, unanimously passed the Senate Judiciary Committee today.  A similar version of this legislation has already passed the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault & Sexual Harassment Act would invalidate forced arbitration clauses that prevent sexual assault and sexual harassment survivors from seeking justice and public accountability under the laws meant to protect them.

“I very much appreciate the bipartisan effort and strong bipartisan vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee to make sure that arbitration is not abused when it comes to victims of sexual assault and harassment,” said Senator Graham. “The strong bipartisan vote is a giant step forward to finish this journey for justice for the victims. I hope this bill will soon pass the full Senate and eventually be signed into law.  Under current law, many employment contracts require binding arbitration no matter the nature of the grievance. When it comes to sexual assault and harassment, I believe these types of agreements have a chilling effect and should be banned.”

“Workplace sexual assault and sexual harassment disrupts lives and careers, and can have severe consequences for the lifetime earnings of women in the workforce. Working people deserve a real chance at justice; they should not be forced into the secretive and often biased process of arbitration designed by the same corporation they are challenging,” said Senator Gillibrand.  “I’m pleased to see that our legislation, the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act, has passed out of the Judiciary Committee with bipartisan support. This is an important step forward for survivors and for the more than 60 million Americans who are subject to mandatory arbitration clauses. I will keep working until this bill is signed into law, giving individuals their day in court, allowing them to discuss their cases publicly, and ending the days of institutional protection for bad employers.”

“I’m grateful to the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee for advancing this bipartisan legislation, S. 2342,” said Gretchen Carlson, Co-Founder of Lift Our Voices. “This is an historic opportunity to end silencing mechanisms and it will allow harassment and assault survivors the ability to speak openly and protect others in workplaces across the country. I thank the Committee members for their support of this legislation and their hard work to advance it.”

Gillibrand and Graham noted that 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.”