Last month, 50 state attorneys general decided to band together in an effort to end the silence surrounding sexual harassment lawsuits. In a letter to U.S. congressional leaders, the attorneys general urged Congress to stop forcing victims into arbitration.
What Is Arbitration?
Arbitration is a less expensive and more private way to handle legal disputes. By letting a neutral arbitrator resolve disagreements between parties, people and businesses can avoid going to court and airing their dirty laundry in public.
How Does Arbitration Keep Harassment Victims Silent?
If a contract you sign contains a mandatory arbitration clause, you are agreeing to resolve your dispute through the arbitration process. It also prohibits you from suing your opponent if you do not like the outcome, and it usually prohibits you from discussing the details of your claim ever again.
If you are the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace and your contract for employment requires arbitration, your only way to seek justice is to arbitrate the issue. This means that any admission of guilt by your tormenter, any settlement you receive and any other details of your claim are kept private.
Making Changes That Help Victims of Harassment
Mandatory arbitration clauses have been allowing powerful people to keep their bad behavior secret for years. The #MeToo movement has shown how pervasive sex harassment truly is.
If all of the state AGs get their way, Congress will stop forcing sexually harassed women and men into arbitration, lifting the veil of secrecy and isolation. This will allow them to have their day in court and, hopefully, deter other offenders.