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Stopping Forced Arbitration

Senator Gillibrand introduces bill to stop forced arbitration from keeping sexual harassment victims quiet

Brian Young's picture
Jan 30, 2018

Over the last few years, arbitration clauses have become prevalent in many jobs. These clauses force employees to go to arbitration instead of suing the company. While they reduce costs for the company, they also have been seen as silencing workers who want to file complaints about issues like sexual harassment. UCOMM previously reported on how Fox News used these clauses to keep staffers quiet about sexual harassment from Fox CEO Roger Ailes.

On Friday, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand met with business leaders to discuss a bill that she is sponsoring that would make these agreements illegal. The bill “Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Harassment Act of 2017” would bar employers from including arbitration clauses that prevent workers from filing suit against their harassers in labor contracts and allows accusers to speak publicly about their claims. The bill is being co-sponsored by Republican Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and a companion bill in House which is sponsored by Elise Stefanik (R-Willsboro).

At the meeting, Gillibrand said that these clauses force accusers to remain silent and often drive employees to leave their jobs for lower-paid positions to avoid their harassers. “Sexual harassment in the workplace is toxic,” Gillibrand said. “It harms the workplace. It harms morale. It harms retention. It harms the ability of a company to succeed.”

The Economic Policy Institute says that 60 million non-union private sector workers are subjected mandatory arbitration clauses. This represents about 56% of private sector non-union workers.

This bill is part of Gillibrand’s continuing fight against sexual harassment following the #metoo movement. Last month she drew headlines for calling on Trump to resign due to sexual misconduct. Following her statement, many felt that Trump sexually harassed Gillibrand when he insinuated that she traded sexual favors for political donations.

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