President Biden Signs the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act of 2021
On March 3, 2022, President Biden signed the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act of 2021 (“Act”) into law. Previously, the bill passed the House of Representatives with an overwhelming bipartisan vote and passed the Senate on a voice vote.
The bill gives survivors of sexual assault and sexual harassment the chance to have their case heard in a court of law, rather than being forced into private arbitration, away from public view, and without the right to a jury. Specifically, the Act makes pre-dispute agreements to arbitrate claims asserting sexual harassment or sexual assault unenforceable. Such agreements, often included in a pile of paperwork on the first day of employment or in the fine print of an employment application, were used by employers to prevent claims from being litigated in state or federal court. Instead, employment disputes would be in front of a single arbitrator, who serves as judge and jury.
Nearly all other employment claims may still be subject to arbitration under the Federal Arbitration Act, so employees should consult with an experienced employment attorney prior to signing any such agreement.