Senate passes landmark bill banning forced arbitration in sexual misconduct cases

(Image credit: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images)

Legislation banning forced arbitration in sexual harassment and assault cases is heading to President Biden's desk.

The Senate on Thursday passed the Ending Forced Arbitration Act, which prevents companies from forcing harassment and assault claims into arbitration, with bipartisan support, Axios and NBC News report. The House of Representatives passed the bill earlier this week.

"This is among the largest workplace reforms, certainly in our lifetimes," Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) told NBC News.

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The White House has said it supports the bill, as current law allowing employers to require arbitration in misconduct cases "silences victims of abuse by forcing them into a confidential dispute forum without the right to appeal."

The law was championed by former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson, who sued former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes for sexual harassment but has said she was prevented from speaking about the details of her case due to a nondisclosure agreement. Gillibrand told Axios that Carlson "sat down with Lindsey [Graham] to tell him about her experience at Fox News, and I think that was something very important to him." Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) was among the Republicans who supported the bill.

After the bill passed the House, Carlson said she was "thrilled" it received bipartisan support.

Carlson previously wrote in a USA Today column in 2021, "More than 60 million Americans are under the thumb of forced arbitration in their employment agreements, and over a third of American workers are bound by NDAs. They cannot tell their own truths; they cannot tell their own stories. It's time to remove the muzzles, not just to make people safer but to also create more productive, positive businesses."

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Brendan Morrow

Brendan is a staff writer at The Week. A graduate of Hofstra University with a degree in journalism, he also writes about horror films for Bloody Disgusting and has previously contributed to The Cheat Sheet, Heavy, WhatCulture, and more. He lives in New York City surrounded by Star Wars posters.