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Arizona AG joins group to protect employees from sexual harassment

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)

PHOENIX — Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich joined the effort to end forced arbitration for victims of workplace sexual harassment.

According to Mia Garcia, Brnovich’s spokeswoman, he joined a bipartisan coalition of attorneys general from 55 other states and territories. The coalition sent a letter to Congress Monday to pass legislation that would give victims of sexual harassment in the workplace the right to go through the judicial process.

“Too often employees are forced to sign employment contracts which contain arbitration agreements, mandating that sexual harassment claims be resolved through private arbitration instead of going to court,” Garcia told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Monday.

“The secrecy surrounding these sexual harassment claims protect serial violators and they hurt victims.”

Brnovich believes the current handling of workplace misconduct cases silences victims and keeps claims of sexual harassment and settlements secret, making others unaware of the occurrence.

“Access to the judicial system is a fundamental right of all Americans and victims of sexual harassment have a right to their day in court,” Brnovich said in a statement.

In the letter, members of the coalition said that an end to forced arbitration in cases of workplace misconduct would allow other victims to be aware of the claims, thus allowing them to come forward as well.

“Ending mandatory arbitration of sexual harassment claims would help to put a stop to the culture of silence that protects perpetrators at the cost of their victims,” the letter said. “We are aware that the Senate and the House are considering legislation to address this issue.

“Whatever form the final version may take, we strongly support appropriately-tailored legislation to ensure that sexual harassment victims have a right to their day in court.”

In December, Congress proposed a bill that would end forced arbitration of workplace sexual harassment claims. The bill gained support from tech giant Microsoft, who announced they would put an end to mandatory arbitration.

While the bill has yet to be signed into law, Garcia urged victims of sexual harassment to contact the Arizona attorney general’s office to file a complaint without having to notify their employer.

“They can come directly to us,” Garcia said. “We are here to help.”

KTAR News’ Ali Vetnar contributed to this report.

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