In March 2022, President Biden signed the “Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act of 2021.”
This forced arbitration of sexual assault act invalidates any agreements that prevent a party from filing a sexual assault or sexual harassment in court.
In the context of the private sector, it restricts employers from forcing their employees to agree to private arbitration to resolve their sexual assault or sexual harassment claims.
Another part of the act prohibits employers from forcing employees to waive their right to take part in a joint or class action.
That said, the act does not entirely prohibit employees from using private arbitrations to resolve their claims.
Private arbitration can still be a valid dispute resolution for victims of sexual harassment, provided they agree to it.
In contrast to many political issues, the act was passed in Congress with significant bipartisan support.
In fact, over three hundred representatives voted for the act in the House of Representatives.
Notwithstanding its general provisions, the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act of 2021 carries several limitations.
For instance, the Act states a court, rather than an arbitrator, must decide whether it applies to a particular case. Furthermore, the Act does not apply retroactively.
So, if an employer forced an employee to use private arbitration before March 2022, that resolution remains valid.
And employers may still force employees to engage in private arbitration for other kinds of employment claims.
Because it is a new act, there is some ambiguity about the reach of the law.
It is unclear whether judges will extend the act to mixed complaints that contain sexual harassment claims as well as other, non-sexual claims.
As judges begin to apply the law in various decisions, this issue will become clearer.
The implications of this new act for the general workforce are significant. And given the short time it’s been in effect, these implications are still developing.
But, in any case, you need to contact a knowledgeable sexual harassment attorney for legal advice on specific sexual harassment issues.
As stated by Vice President Harris, the Act is designed to prevent silencing victims of sexual assault and sexual harassment.
She lamented that forced arbitration was used to “shield predators instead of holding them accountable” and “give corporations a powerful tool to hide abuse and misconduct.”
Furthermore, private arbitrations have traditionally produced results that are more favorable to employers.
With this Act passed, employers can no longer hide bad-acting employees.
Instead, sexual assault survivors in the workplace gain a powerful means of taking their claims before public courts and exposing the sexual harassment they’ve experienced at the hands of their employers.
The Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act of 2022 is one of several recent efforts by the government to provide more protection for sexual harassment survivors and to hold wrongdoers accountable.
Yet workplace sexual harassment is still an epidemic in American workplaces, and workers still face plenty of bad behavior despite the newly enacted laws.
If you have experienced sexual assault or sexual harassment in the workplace, contact a qualified sexual harassment lawyer today.
Even with the protections afforded to employees under this new act, you cannot always trust your employer to treat you fairly.
Many employers will be unfamiliar with this new act. Some may even consciously choose to ignore it.
If your employer is trying to force you to agree to a private arbitration for your sexual harassment case, you need to find legal representation immediately.
Our team at Workplace Rights Law Group understands how stressful these kinds of situations can be. Know that you don’t have to give up your rights.
Instead, give us a call today so we can help you stand up to your employer. Our attorneys specialize in all kinds of labor and employment issues.
Together, they have decades of representing employees and helping them receive the compensation they deserve.
We also are fearless innovators willing to create unique case strategies to meet your needs.