On March 3, 2022, President Biden signed into law the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act of 2021. This Act ends forced arbitration in workplace sexual assault and harassment cases and allows employees who are parties to arbitration agreements with their employers the option of bringing such claims either in arbitration or court.
The Act amends the Federal Arbitration Act to include the following language:
[A]t the election of the person alleging conduct constituting a sexual harassment dispute or a sexual assault dispute, or the named representative of a class or in a collective action alleging such conduct, no predispute arbitration agreement or predispute joint-action waiver shall be valid or enforceable with respect to a case which is filed under Federal, Tribal, or State law and relates to the sexual assault dispute or the sexual harassment dispute.
Accordingly, the new law will retroactively nullify agreements between employees and their employers in which the employees waive their rights to bring suit for sexual assault or harassment and instead are required to settle their disputes by arbitration. Employees now have the option to invalidate any arbitration agreements with their employers regarding sexual assault or sexual harassment claims and pursue those claims in court, regardless of the date of the agreement.
The Act applies to all claims arising after March 3, 2022. However, if does not affect claims that arose before March 3, 2022. The Act also does not affect otherwise valid arbitration agreements for claims that are unrelated to sexual assault and sexual harassment.
Written By: Grace Ann Azar
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