A group of bipartisan lawmakers has introduced a bill, Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Harassment Act of 2017, that would make it illegal for companies to enforce contractual terms that force employees to arbitrate their sexual harassment or gender discrimination claims rather than take such claims to court. Advocates of the bill say forced arbitration only protects the bad actor rather than the victim. The arbitration process usually allows the employer and the bad actor to keep the harassment or discrimination much more private than is possible in a court case.
U&K will keep an eye on the progress of this bill. It is still at the very beginning stages of being made into law. Meanwhile, employers should review their employment agreements and any other agreements with employees to determine if such a clause is contained in those documents. If employers have a general arbitration clause, this law would make that unenforceable against sexual harassment and gender discrimination claims.