Federal legislation would give victims more rights
OKLAHOMA CITY – Attorney General Mike Hunter today signed a letter, sent to Congressional leadership, asking members to pass legislation ending mandatory arbitration to strengthen the protection for victims of sexual harassment in the workplace.
In the letter, Attorney General Hunter, and a bipartisan coalition of 56 attorneys general from states and U.S. territories, are asking for the legislation to ensure victims of sexual harassment have access to the courts, to pursue justice and obtain appropriate relief free from arbitration requirements.
Arbitration clauses are used in employment contracts by some companies to settle disputes outside the court system, where one or more individuals serve as the decision maker for resolution.
Attorney General Hunter said federal legislation will give victims of sexual harassment a stronger voice and create a better, safer working environment.
“Binding arbitration enables predators by keeping victims’ complaints and settlements secret,” Attorney General Hunter said. “Sexual harassment should never be tolerated. Congress has an opportunity to do what is right and should act without delay to ensure victims of sexual harassment aren’t denied their rights.”
In the letter, attorneys general write, the veil of secrecy behind mandatory arbitration may also prevent other victims from coming forward.
“Ending mandatory arbitration of sexual harassment claims would help to put a stop to the culture of silence that protects perpetrators at the cost of their victims,” the letter reads.
The attorneys general, including Attorney General Hunter, who signed the letter agree in other contexts, arbitration provisions may be beneficial. However, in cases of sexual harassment, arbitrators are not trained as judges and are not qualified to act as courts of law.
Federal legislation introduced last December, titled the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Harassment Act of 2017, would make it illegal for employers to enforce arbitration for sexual harassment claims. The bill is currently in the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.
The letter closes by acknowledging the pending legislation, saying whatever form the final version may take, the attorneys general strongly support appropriately tailored legislation to ensure sexual harassment victims have a right to their day in court.
Read the letter, here: http://bit.ly/2ElTPDn.
Track the federal legislation, here: http://bit.ly/2Bih6Ui.