November 04, 2021

Judiciary Committee Advances Bipartisan Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act of 2021

Committee also advances nominations of five U.S. Attorneys

WASHINGTON – The Senate Judiciary Committee today passed out of committee the bipartisan Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act of 2021. The bill ensures that survivors of sexual assault and harassment can choose to bring a case in court instead of being forced into secret arbitration proceedings where the deck is stacked against them.  The bill will give these survivors the chance to make their case in public, and will ensure that abusers and those who enabled them cannot hide behind a wall of secrecy.  The Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act of 2021 was originally introduced in the Senate by U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin (D-IL), and has since been co-sponsored by numerous Senators from both parties.  

“Forced arbitration clauses require disputes to be decided in secret proceedings where the deck is often stacked in favor of corporations and repeat players. For Americans who have been sexually assaulted or harassed, forced arbitration clauses not only deny survivors a day in court, they require the misconduct to be concealed from public view. And that allows abusers to commit even more abuse,” Durbin said. “The bill before us today would give survivors of sexual assault and harassment a choice to go to court instead of being forced into arbitration under the fine print of contracts signed before the dispute arose…This is the Senate Judiciary Committee at its best. A bipartisan effort on an issue of importance to the cause of justice in our nation. That’s why we’re here.”

“All victims of sexual assault or sexual harassment deserve to  have their voices heard and their day in court if they so choose. This bipartisan bill prevents employers from sweeping sexual assault or sexual harassment claims under the rug by subjecting them to mandatory arbitration agreements. It builds on our bipartisan commitment to protect victims and promote justice,” Grassley said.

“Workplace sexual assault and sexual harassment disrupts lives and careers, and can have severe consequences for the lifetime earnings of women in the workforce. Working people deserve a real chance at justice; they should not be forced into the secretive and often biased process of arbitration designed by the same corporation they are challenging. I’m pleased to see that our legislation, the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act, has passed out of the Judiciary Committee with bipartisan support. This is an important step forward for survivors and for the more than 60 million Americans who are subject to mandatory arbitration clauses. I will keep working until this bill is signed into law, giving individuals their day in court, allowing them to discuss their cases publicly, and ending the days of institutional protection for bad employers,” said Gillibrand

“I very much appreciate the bipartisan effort and strong bipartisan vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee to make sure that arbitration is not abused when it comes to victims of sexual assault and harassment,” said Graham. “The strong bipartisan vote is a giant step forward to finish this journey for justice for the victims. I hope this bill will soon pass the full Senate and eventually be signed into law.  Under current law, many employment contracts require binding arbitration no matter the nature of the grievance. When it comes to sexual assault and harassment, I believe these types of agreements have a chilling effect and should be banned.”

“I’m grateful to the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee for advancing this bipartisan legislation, S. 2342. This is an historic opportunity to end silencing mechanisms that prevent survivors from speaking out, and it will allow survivors the ability to speak openly and protect others in workplaces across the country. I thank the Committee members for their support of this legislation and their hard work to advance it,” said Gretchen Carlson, Lift Our Voices Co-Founder, who was in attendance for today’s markup.

The Committee also advanced the nominations of Clare E. Connors, to be United States Attorney for the District of Hawaii; Zachary A. Cunha, to be Unites States Attorney for the District of Rhode Island; Nikolas P. Kerest, to be United States Attorney for the District of Vermont; Cole Finegan, to be United States Attorney for the District of Colorado; and Kenneth L. Parker, to be United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio. All five U.S. Attorneys received a voice vote to advance out of Committee.

Video of Durbin’s remarks on the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act of 2021 is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s remarks on the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act of 2021 is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s remarks on the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act of 2021 is available here for TV Stations.

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