WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswomen Pramila Jayapal and Cheri Bustos commended Microsoft for announcing they would be eliminating forced arbitration agreements with employees who make sexual harassment claims.
Earlier this month, Jayapal (D-WA) and Bustos (D-IL) were joined by Reps. Walter Jones (R-NC) and Elise Stefanik (R-NY), as well as Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), as they introduced the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Harassment Act of 2017 that would void forced arbitration agreements that prevent sexual harassment survivors from getting the justice they deserve.
“I am proud to see Microsoft proactively step up to the plate, show leadership on the issue of sexual harassment and eliminate mandatory arbitration agreements with their employees in cases of sexual harassment. I hope other companies who want to be leaders in creating safe workplaces for all employees will follow suit. Forced arbitration silences victims, limits opportunity, protects powerful men and breaks the leadership ladders that we work so hard to build. Sexual harassment has no regard to party or industry—it affects all of us, everywhere,” said Rep. Jayapal. “Our legislation takes the first steps toward changing a deep-seated culture of sexism and silencing in the private sector. The bravery of the victims who have come forward cannot go unnoticed. For them, and for all people who experience harassment, we must act on this moment and end the forced arbitration process for good.”
“Systemic sexual harassment can only exist in secrecy which is why I wrote legislation to stamp out this abusive behavior in the workplace,” said Rep. Bustos. “I want to commend Microsoft for leading by example and taking steps to ensure a safer workplace by exempting their workers from forced arbitration in sexual harassment cases. Our strategy to end sexual harassment in the workplace goes well beyond Washington D.C. and I want to thank Congresswoman Jayapal for helping lead this effort. I’m proud of the growing coalition of bipartisan legislators and business leaders who are standing up and saying ‘no more’ to sexual harassment in the workplace.”
Today, an estimated 60 million Americans are subject to forced arbitration clauses. The bipartisan, bicameral bill that Jayapal, Bustos, Jones, Stefanik, Gillibrand and Graham announced would void forced arbitration agreements, and allow survivors of sexual harassment or discrimination to seek justice and discuss their cases publicly.
Forced arbitration clauses prevent survivors of sexual harassment from discussing the nature or basis of their complaint. If an employee’s contract or employee handbook includes a forced arbitration clause, the employee is likely to have signed away his or her right to take the case to court whether or not they are aware of the clause. Employees are far more likely to win cases that go to trial than cases that go through this arbitration process.