Senate Passes Bill to End Forced Arbitration for Survivors of Sexual Assault and Harassment
In February 2022, the Congress passed a law to improve accountability for survivors of sexual assault and sexual harassment. The Senate’s bipartisan vote for S. 2342, the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act, came only three days after the House voted overwhelmingly to pass its version of the bill, H.R. 4445.
This law is intended to restore the right of sexual assault and harassment survivors to hold their perpetrators and the corporations who enable them accountable in public courts, instead of being forced into private arbitration.
Arbitration provisions take away the Constitutional rights of Americans to have a jury of their peers hear their cases. Arbitration provisions are commonplace in employment, retail sales, internet forms, and a wide range of other situations where the consumer has little or no choice in the matter. Arbitrations are conducted in secret, and studies have shown that arbitrations disproportionately disfavor women and minorities.
For decades, the American Association for Justice (AAJ) has fought to end forced arbitration for all workers, consumers, and survivors. Year after year, AAJ worked with survivors to make their voices heard on Capitol Hill and in the media. AAJ published research reports, participated in friend of the court (amicus curiae) legal briefings in significant cases, and directed a public information campaign about how corporations use forced arbitration to strip Americans of their fundamental rights to seek justice and accountability under the Seventh Amendment of the Constitution.
Our hope is that because of the continued commitment to these efforts, an ever-increasing number of Americans will realize what trial attorneys have known for far too long: that countless survivors, workers, and consumers have long been silenced by forced arbitration. The Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act is a significant step forward in the fight to restore the rights of all Americans to seek justice.
The courage of the survivors and advocates who came forward at great personal risk to tell their stories to Congress was critical to the success of the bill. Trial attorneys and the AAJ will continue this fight, and will do it by empowering all victims’ voices to be heard.