In the wake of the recent #MeToo movement, many are starting to speak out about the fact that mandatory arbitration agreements may be particularly bad for women. When the #MeToo movement resulted in more and more female workers coming forward to report instances of sexual harassment in the workplace at companies like Fox and the Weinstein Company, many of them quickly realized that they would not be able to seek justice in the courts because of arbitration agreements they were required to sign as employees.
For instance, Gretchen Carlson, former Fox News anchor, signed a required mandatory arbitration agreement. She sued former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes for sexual harassment and received an undisclosed settlement. But she was not able to sue Fox News for their rose in allowing the sexual harassment to continue. Dozens of other women who experienced similar situations at Fox found themselves in the same situation.
As more women come forward to speak out about sexual harassment on the job, many are putting the pressure on Congress to take action and restrict or even eliminate arbitration clauses from US workplaces.
Recent Legislative Actions:
October 2017 – The Mandatory Arbitration Transparency Act was introduced. The Act prohibits businesses from including a confidentiality clause in arbitration agreements in connection with discrimination claims.
December 2017 – The Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Harassment Act was introduced exempting sexual harassment cases from mandatory arbitration.
February 2018 – 56 state attorneys general (5 from US territories) weighed in with a letter urging congressional leaders to vote on the bills.
March 2018 – The Arbitration Fairness Act was proposed, which would let workers and consumers decide where they should pursue their legal claims.
October 2018 - The latest bill, the Restoring Justice for Workers Act, would prohibit employers from banning class-action claims.
If you need to speak with an experienced California employment law attorney because you are experiencing labor law violations and aren’t sure how to seek justice, please get in touch with us at Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik De Blouw LLP.