On February 10, in a continuing effort to ensure employers are enforcing anti-harassment policies, the U.S. Senate passed HR 4445 known as the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act. It is expected that President Biden will sign the bill which would amend the Federal Arbitration Act to allow employees to bring allegations of sexual harassment/assault in court instead of being forced into arbitration.
HR 4445 effectively allows plaintiffs to void any arbitration agreement signed before a claim or dispute involving sexual assault or sexual harassment arises. According to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, (D-NY), HR 4445’s goal is to change a system “that uses secrecy to protect perpetrators and silence survivors.”
The federal bill follows California, which already bans mandatory arbitration of sexual-harassment claims.
Members with questions about the potential impacts of HR 4445 or how to address uncivil behaviors in the workplace should contact Western Growers.