Under current law, with few exceptions, employers may force employees to give up their right to a jury trial as a condition of employment - even in the cases of civil rights violations, including sexual harassment and sexual assault. Under such “forced arbitration” provisions, employees often face employer-friendly “judges” who are paid by the employer themselves, and who may be repeat players. Force arbitration provisions also impose limitations on the right to appeal, and frequently limit discovery, making it difficult for employees to prosecute their cases. Employers may also legally ban class actions in arbitration, limiting low-wage workers from joining together to recover for wage and hour violations. Further, by taking cases out of the public eye of the Courts, employers have been allowed to hide repeat offenses from public scrutiny.
The Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act (H.R. 4445), however, would amend the Federal Arbitration Act to exempt sexual assault and sexual harassment claims from forced arbitration, passed in both the House and Senate with rare bipartisan support. The President is expected to sign the bill into law and has expressed support for the bill.
Erika Jacobsen White
Erika Jacobsen White is client-centered and practices trauma informed lawyering. She believes that access to justice happens both inside and outside of the courtroom, and that a good lawyer helps their clients feel empowered in the face of a system that is often stacked against them.
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