On December 7, 2022, NWLC joined Public Justice, the American Association for Justice, the National Employment Lawyers Association, RAINN, RISE, and Lift Our Voices to submit an amicus brief in Yost v. Everyrealm, Inc. and Johnson v. Everyrealm, Inc. on the proper application of the Ending Forced Arbitration in Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act (“EFASASHA”). The Act, signed into law by President Biden in March 2022, prevents employers and other businesses from sweeping sexual misconduct under the rug by providing plaintiffs with cases related to sexual assault or sexual harassment the right to pursue their claims in court, instead of being forced into secretive and unfair arbitration procedures. As two of the first cases to be brought under EFASASHA, Yost and Johnson present new questions about the proper interpretation and scope of the Act. NWLC joined this amicus brief in order to ensure that the EFASASHA is applied in accordance with its purpose––to broaden access to justice for survivors of sexual harassment including assault and help hold businesses accountable for unlawful behavior.
Our amicus brief explains why courts must interpret and apply EFASASHA broadly whenever a sexual harassment claim is presented. EFASASHA applies whenever there is a “sexual harassment dispute” raised in the plaintiff’s complaint. The text and legislative history of the Act, our brief explains, makes clear that the phrase “sexual harassment dispute” is broad and encompasses not only claims for sexual harassment but also any related claims. Furthermore, the language of EFASASHA demonstrates that Congress intentionally exempted any “case” “that relates to” a “sexual harassment dispute,” meaning that the entirety of the plaintiff’s case must be litigated in court whenever a claim related to sexual harassment is raised in the complaint. Our amicus brief urges the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York to adopt this proper interpretation of EFASASHA to ensure that the Act’s goal of expanding access to justice for survivors is achieved.