“This is totally revolutionary.” Congress passes bill to end forced arbitration for survivors of sexual misconduct
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Congress has passed a bill to end forced arbitration and change how sexual assault and harassment claims are handled in the workplace. The bill is one of the largest workplace reforms in decades.
The bill is called the “Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act” and passed the senate Thursday with bipartisan approval. If signed into law, businesses would not be able to force employees who make sexual misconduct claims into arbitration, and instead, employees would be allowed to file lawsuits.
“The bill is going to help fix a broken system that protects perpetrators and corporations and ends the days of silencing survivors,” said Democratic New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. “No longer will survivors of sexual assault or harassment in the workplace come forward and be told that they are legally forbidden to sue their employer because somewhere buried in their employment contracts was this forced arbitration clause.”
Chelsea Croom with the Rape Crisis Center of Coastal Horizons says around 60 percent of women claim to have been sexually harassed or assaulted at work. She says this bill gives those women a voice.
“This is just an incredible step in the right direction to give survivors their voice back and give perpetrators their day in court because we need to be holding people accountable,” Croom said.
Croom also believes businesses need to be accountable and take the steps necessary to eliminate sexual misconduct among employees.
“It’s really important for workplaces to have trainings when it comes to sexual-harassment and to make sure that they’re uplifting their employees and breathing a culture of ‘we don’t tolerate this’ and workers need to feel like they’re safe,” Croom said.
The bill was first introduced in 2017 amid the #MeToo movement and now goes to President Biden’s desk, where he is expected to sign it into law.
Croom is glad that congress has taken action, and says once the bill becomes a law, it will offer a sense of reassurance for sexual assault survivors.
“I think this is totally revolutionary,” Croom said. “I think it’s just proving that more and more people are becoming aware of what this kind of stuff looks like. And, the survivors deserve to have a voice and deserve to be heard.”
To learn more about the Rape Crisis Center of Coastal Horizons, click here.
If you or someone you know needs immediate assistance, call the 24-hour crisis line at 910-392-7460.
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