WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (IL-17) – a longtime leader in the push to end forced arbitration – helped pass the Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal Act (the FAIR Act). This bill would prohibit the enforcement of mandatory, pre-dispute arbitration provisions in contracts involving consumers, employment, antitrust and civil rights disputes. Included in the legislation is Congresswoman Bustos’ Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Harassment Act, which would void forced arbitration agreements that prevent sexual harassment survivors from getting the justice they deserve.
“We can no longer sweep this problem under the rug through secret arbitration processes that silence victims of harassment and discrimination,” Congresswoman Bustos said. “It’s time for justice – everyone who is subjected to discrimination or sexual harassment in the workplace deserves their day in court. This legislation would create safer workplaces and protect workers who are routinely held back by institutional protections for bad actors. The Senate should move quickly to protect workers, hold the powerful accountable and be on the right side of history.”
Click HERE to watch Congresswoman Bustos speak on the House floor.
An estimated 60 million Americans are subject to forced arbitration clauses. The bill Congresswoman Bustos helped pass today would void forced arbitration agreements and allow survivors of sexual harassment or discrimination to seek justice, discuss their cases publicly and eliminate institutional protection for harassers. Forced arbitration clauses often include non-disclosure agreements that prevent survivors of sexual harassment from discussing the nature or basis of their complaint. If an employee’s contract or employee handbook includes a forced arbitration clause, the employee is likely to have signed away his or her right to a jury trial whether or not they are aware of the clause. Employees are far more likely to win cases that go to trial than cases that go through the arbitration process.
In the 115th Congress, Congresswoman Bustos introduced similar bipartisan, bicameral legislation with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. Upon the introduction of Congresswoman Bustos’ legislation, Attorneys General from all 50 states, territories and the District of Columbia called for passage of her bill to protect workers and survivors of sexual assault. Other companies have since ended the use of forced arbitration in cases of sexual harassment and assault, including Uber, Microsoft and Google.