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In situations involving charges of sexual misconduct, the new legislation would abolish the need to submit to forced arbitration.
The United States Congress gave final approval on Thursday to legislation that ensures that people who experience sexual harassment at work can seek redress in the courts, marking a significant step forward for the #MeToo movement that has prompted a national reckoning over sexual misconduct and harassment.
The legislation, which is anticipated to be signed by President Joe Biden, prohibits employers from requiring employees to settle sexual assault or harassment charges via arbitration rather than in court, as is now the case. Arbitration is a mechanism that often favors employers and prevents charges of misbehavior from becoming public knowledge.
People who have arbitration agreements bound may pursue new legal action since the law is retroactive, nullifying arbitration clauses in contracts all around the country and allowing them to do so.
Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who has been at the forefront of the push, has described it as “one of the most important workplace changes in the history of the United States.” According to Gillibrand, the arbitration procedure is private and unfair, and it denies individuals a fundamental constitutional right: the right to a day in court.
“No longer will survivors of sexual assault or harassment in the workplace come forward and be informed that they are legally barred from suing their employer because of a forced arbitration provision hidden somewhere in their employment contracts,” she said. ”
Former Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who has also worked to tackle sexual harassment and sexual misconduct in the United States military, first proposed the proposal in 2017 alongside Republican Senator Lindsey Graham.
An extensive and nonpartisan base of support for the initiative emerged in a divided Congress. The measure was approved by unanimous agreement in the Senate. The House approved the law earlier this week on a strong bipartisan basis, with 335 votes in favor and 97 votes against.