#MeToo Milestone: Biden Signs Bustos’ Bill to End Forced Arbitration for Sexual Assault and Harassment Into Law

Today, President Joe Biden signed Bustos’ bill into law during a ceremony with lawmakers and survivors at the White House 

WASHINGTON — Today, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos’ (IL-17) bipartisan, bicameral legislation to end forced arbitration for sexual harassment and assault was signed into law by President Joe Biden during a ceremony with lawmakers and survivors at the White House. 

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the legislation with overwhelming bipartisan support on February 7, 2022. The bill then passed the Senate by voice vote on February 10, 2022. It was officially sent to the White House following an enrollment ceremony with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi yesterday.

WATCH: Video of the White House Bill Signing Ceremony with President Biden can be viewed here. 

“Today, with the stroke of a pen, survivors of sexual assault and harassment across the country are finally free from the silence of forced arbitration,” said Congresswoman Bustos. “It was such an honor to join President Joe Biden at the White House today as legislation I’ve championed for five years was finally signed into law. Thanks to the courage of survivors and activists like Gretchen Carlson, Andowah Newton, Tatitana Spottiswoode, Lora Henry, Tanuja Gupta and the American Association of Justice, we’ll now see an end to the days when survivors of sexual harassment, abuse and even rape can be silenced and denied their day in court.”

“I’m also exceedingly grateful to the leaders who have helped build a broad bipartisan coalition to support this important legislation with me to get us where we are today. In the House, Reps. Pramila Jayapal, Morgan Griffith, Ken Buck and David Cicilline were instrumental in passing this bill. Additionally, Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, Lindsey Graham and Dick Durbin all played a vital role in getting this legislation across the finish line. President Biden and each and every one of my colleagues have helped better the lives of millions of Americans today.” 

“Today is a historic day for survivors of sexual assault. We’ve said clearly and decisively that we believe them and that they deserve to pursue justice for themselves,”said Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal. “Forced arbitration has for far too long silenced survivors and I’m happy to see this predatory practice banned for good. I’m grateful to President Biden for signing the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act into law, and to my colleagues Reps. Cheri Bustos, Morgan Griffith, and David Cicilline who’ve helped get this legislation to where it is today.”

“Enactment of this bipartisan, bicameral bill is a victory for accountability and will aid survivors of sexual assault and harassment in their quest for justice. Those who endure sexual assault and harassment deserve the chance to have their claims judged in an unbiased process, and our bill delivers. I am proud to have worked on this important bill with my colleagues and all who want to see more fairness in our legal system,” said Congressman Griffith. 

“With President Biden signing H.R. 4445, the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act, we are finally putting a stop to the weaponization of forced arbitration agreements in sexual assault cases. For too long, predators have used this heinous practice to silence their victims and keep their behavior hidden so that they could continue to use their workplaces as hunting grounds. No more. I’m proud to have worked with Congresswoman Bustos, Congresswoman Jayapal, Chairman Nadler, and Congressman Buck on this legislation,” said Congressman Cicilline.

“Today’s signing of the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Harassment Act marks the beginning of a new chapter in the fight to restore the rights of survivors of rape and sexual harassment in the workplace. This bill is a significant milestone for survivors to choose how they seek justice and I commend President Biden for signing this critical bill into law,” said Congressman Buck. 

The Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act will void forced arbitration agreements in any contract if a sexual assault or harassment claim is brought. For employment contracts, more than 60 million Americans would be impacted. That estimate grows exponentially when considering other contracts and terms and conditions where forced arbitration clauses are typically found, such as in nursing homes, property leases, ride-share apps, movers, handyman services and more.

By voiding forced arbitration clauses in the case of sexual assault and harassment, survivors are provided the freedom to decide what legal path works best for them – that can include bringing a claim in court, discussing their case publicly or seeking another kind of legal remedy. It will eliminate institutional protection for harassers and abusers and give survivors the chance to pursue justice. 

WATCH: Video of the White House Bill Signing Ceremony with President Biden can be viewed here.

The Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault & Sexual Harassment Act will stop perpetrators from being able to push survivors of sexual harassment and assault into the secretive, biased process of forced arbitration. 

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the legislation with overwhelming bipartisan support on February 7, 2022. The bill then passed the Senate by voice vote on February 10, 2022. It was signed into law by President Biden on March 3, 2022.

The bill was introduced earlier this year by U.S. Representatives Cheri Bustos (D-IL), Morgan Griffith (R-VA) and Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), along with U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Dick Durbin (D-IL), chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. It has been endorsed by the American Association for Justice (AAJ), Public Citizen, the National Women’s Law Center, the National Partnership for Women and Families, Futures Without Violence, Jewish Women International, Lift Our Voices, National Alliance to End Sexual Violence, National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, National Domestic Violence Hotline, National Network to End Domestic Violence, National Partnership for Women and Families, National Women’s Law Center, Public Citizen, RAINN, RALIANCE, and Sexual Violence Prevention Association, the Malouf Foundation, the Elizabeth Smart Foundation and the House LGBTQ Equality Caucus.

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