Senate Passage of the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act of 2021 Restores Power to Survivors of Sexual Harassment and Assault
(Washington, D.C.) This morning, the Senate passed by voice vote the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act of 2021. The House passed its version February 7, 2022, by a vote of 335–97 with strong bipartisan support. The bill provides important new opportunities for individuals who experience sexual harassment and assault to seek justice without being forced into closed-door and secretive forced arbitration proceedings, where employers are given unfair advantage.
NWLC is hopeful that as a complement to this bill, Congress will quickly take up and pass the FAIR Act (S.505/HR. 963) and Restoring Justice for Workers Act (HR. 4841), which would ensure that companies can no longer circumvent the legal system by forcing individuals into arbitration. In the interim, NWLC applauds the passage of the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act of 2021, which will restore power to survivors of sexual assault and sexual harassment by ensuring they will not be forced into arbitration.
The following is a statement by Emily Martin, NWLC Vice President for Education and Workplace Justice:
“Every day, individuals across the country—in every industry—experience the scourge of sexual harassment and assault. Since #MeToo went viral four years ago, thousands of people—mostly women—have bravely called out the harassment and abuse they’ve suffered. Yet, as survivors seek justice, many soon realize the enormous odds they’re up against. Legal options are often confined to secretive forced arbitration procedures that severely limit survivors’ rights and stack the deck in favor of employers. Companies usually select the arbitrator. No public records of the proceedings or the outcome will exist. It’s rarely possible to appeal an arbitrator’s decision. While few survivors will be made whole, many will be hit with steep arbitration costs. The Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act of 2021 is a crucial first step to stop these unfair practices and restore the right of survivors to secure justice for themselves, and finally hold companies accountable. It is admittedly an incomplete solution, as no one should be forced to waive their ability to fully enforce their rights to be free from other forms of unlawful harassment, discrimination, and exploitation, whether as workers, as consumers, as patients, or as students. We urge Congress to continue to build on today’s important progress.”