On March 3, 2022, President Biden signed a bill that will change the way sexual harassment or assault claims are handled at the workplace. For decades, employers have been allowed to enforce contract provisions, called “arbitration agreements,” that prevent employees who are victims of either sexual harassment and/or sexual assault from filing a lawsuit against their employer. Instead, employees who signed arbitration agreements could only have their legal claims heard in a private forum called arbitration. Arbitration is a way of resolving a dispute outside of the courts, where a private arbitrator is hired by the company to review the evidence, listen to the parties, and make a decision. They require the dispute to be heard out of the public eye, which protects not only the employer but also the individual who commit the offense, and potentially allows them to continue harassing other individuals. There is no right to a jury, and the decision cannot be appealed. These mandatory arbitration agreements are often required as part of the on-boarding process and are signed by unsuspecting employees before they ever know they would suffer sexual harassment at work. These agreements are drafted by employers and prevent employees from having their day in court.
After March 3, 2022, arbitration agreements will no longer be enforceable for victims of sexual harassment. Employees will still have the option to resolve their claims through arbitration if they wish, but they will no longer be forced to arbitrate by any employer contracts. The #metoobill now allows employees the option to file a lawsuit for any sexual harassment or sexual assault they may have suffered at work, regardless of whether they signed an arbitration agreement.
If you feel you have experienced sexual harassment or been sexually assaulted at work, our attorneys at Kitzer Rochel are here to help. We advocate on behalf of employees facing discrimination, retaliation, and whistleblower issues in the workplace.