Sexual Misconduct Bill Inches Closer to Becoming Law

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A U.S. Senate measure known as the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act of 2021, which would remove a legal hurdle blocking many employees from suing over workplace sexual misconduct, could become law after advancing out of committee and receiving the backing from 10 Republican senators, reports Bloomberg News. The bill would bar enforcement of mandatory arbitration clauses, which often prevent workers from suing an employer over allegations of workplace sexual misconduct and force them instead to seek redress through an out-of-court dispute resolution process, in cases where employees are alleging they were sexually harassed or assaulted at work.

Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson, who sued then-CEO Roger Ailes alleging harassment, has said that binding arbitration agreements harm victims of sexual harassment and assault by creating an “uneven” relationship between employer and employee. Employers generally assert that the arbitration process is more efficient and less costly than litigation to resolve allegations. Arbitration proceedings, which are legally binding, are decided by a third-party and mostly take place behind closed doors, depriving the employee of the public accounting that open court provides.

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