Biden ends forced arbitration for sexual assault, harassment

Mar 3, 2022, 5:15 PM | Updated: 5:53 pm

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden on Thursday gave victims of workplace sexual assault or harassment the right to seek recourse in a court of law instead of through forced arbitration proceedings.

Biden signed into law the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act, which bars employment contracts from forcing people to settle claims of sexual assault or harassment through private arbitration proceedings instead of in a court of law.

Employers often benefit from the process, which keeps misconduct allegations from becoming public.

The law is retroactive, freeing individuals who have been bound by arbitration language to pursue legal action against their harassers.

Biden called it a “momentous day for justice and fairness in the workplace.”

“To those who experienced sexual harassment or assault, you’re going to have the right today that you did not have yesterday,” the president said.

An estimated 60 million workers are bound by forced arbitration clauses slipped into their employment contracts, with many unaware the language exists, Biden said. Private arbitration keeps them from knowing who else may have suffered similar indignities.

As a result of the #MeToo movement, the widespread practice has come under fire for forcing employees to seek recourse without a jury, a chance to appeal an arbitrator’s decision or the sunlight of a public court process.

Biden said giving employers absolute power to decide how sexual assault or harassment claims are resolved isn’t how justice is supposed to work.

“Some survivors will want their day in court, and that should be their choice and nobody else’s choice,” Biden said at a White House ceremony where he signed the bill.

Former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson, who accused the network’s late CEO Roger Ailes of making unwanted advances and harming her career when she rejected him, testified to Congress in support of the bill. Some employee contracts at Fox included binding arbitration clauses.

Carlson said the law is a great way to kick off Women’s History Month.

“Everyone will know that women’s voices can be heard,” she said at the White House.

Defenders of the arbitration process, including business groups, argue that it is a faster and cheaper way to resolve disputes than through lengthy courtroom proceedings.

The legislation enjoyed broad, bipartisan support in a divided Congress, allowing the Senate to pass it by unanimous consent — a procedure almost never used for significant legislation, especially one affecting tens of millions of people. The House passed the bill 335-97 in February.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., who has focused on combating sexual harassment and sexual misconduct in the military, originally introduced the bill in 2017 with Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

Associated Press writer Michelle Price in New York contributed to this report.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

Anti-Roe justices a part of Catholicism’s conservative wing

The Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade at a time when it has an unprecedented Catholic supermajority. That’s not a coincidence. Nor is it the whole story. The justices who voted to overturn Roe have been shaped by a church whose catechism affirms “the moral evil of every procured abortion” and whose U.S. bishops have […]
11 hours ago
People wait in a TSA line at the John F. Kennedy International Airport on Tuesday, June 28, 2022, i...
Associated Press

All eyes on airlines as July Fourth holiday weekend nears

DALLAS (AP) — Airlines that have stumbled badly over the last two holidays face their biggest test yet of whether they can handle big crowds when July Fourth travelers mob the nation’s airports this weekend. Problems were popping up well before the weekend, with some disruptions caused by thunderstorms that slowed air traffic. American Airlines […]
11 hours ago
FILE - Italy's Matteo Berrettini wears a mask at the end of the third set during the men's singles ...
Associated Press

COVID-19 at Wimbledon: 3 top-20 men out after positive tests

WIMBLEDON, England (AP) — Reigning Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic famously decided not to get vaccinated against COVID-19 — which prevented him from playing at the Australian Open in January following a legal saga that ended with his deportation from that country, and, as things currently stand, will prevent him from entering the United States to […]
11 hours ago
FILE - Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson smiles as Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., arr...
Associated Press

Jackson sworn in, becomes 1st Black woman on Supreme Court

WASHINGTON (AP) — Ketanji Brown Jackson was sworn in to the Supreme Court on Thursday, shattering a glass ceiling as the first Black woman on the nation’s highest court. The 51-year-old Jackson is the court’s 116th justice, and she took the place of the justice she once worked for. Justice Stephen Breyer’s retirement took effect […]
11 hours ago
Construction is underway in the amusement park district of Coney Island, Friday, June 17, 2022, in ...
Associated Press

Coney Island’s Luna Park to expand, introduce 3 attractions

NEW YORK (AP) — Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, step right up and witness Coney Island’s Luna Park like you’ve never seen it before. The beachfront tourist destination will soon be introducing three new attractions and pedestrian plazas on several acres along the iconic Coney Island, New York, boardwalk as part of Luna Park’s […]
11 hours ago
This undated photo provided by the U.S. Marshals Service shows Kaitlin Marie Armstrong. Police were...
Associated Press

Texas woman accused in cyclist death arrested in Costa Rica

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A Texas woman suspected in the fatal shooting of professional cyclist Anna Moriah Wilson at an Austin home has been arrested in Costa Rica, the U.S. Marshals Service said Thursday. Kaitlin Marie Armstrong, 34, was arrested Wednesday at a hostel on Santa Teresa Beach in Provincia de Puntarenas, the Marshals Service […]
11 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Most plumbing problems can be fixed with regular maintenance

Instead of waiting for a problem to happen, experts suggest getting a head start on your plumbing maintenance.
Christina O’Haver

BE FAST to spot a stroke

Every 40 seconds—that’s how often someone has a stroke in the United States. It’s the fifth leading cause of death among Americans, with someone dying of a stroke every 3.5 minutes.
Arizona Division of Problem Gambling

Arizona Division of Problem Gambling provides exclusion solution for young sports bettors

Sports betting in Arizona opened a new world to young adults, one where putting down money on games was as easy as sending a text message.
Biden ends forced arbitration for sexual assault, harassment