The Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act of 2021, was passed by Congress on February 10, 2021, and is expected to be signed into law by President Biden. The bill is aimed at preventing employers from requiring arbitration of workplace sexual harassment or assault claims filed under Federal, Tribal, and State law.
When signed into law, the bill will amend the Federal Arbitration Act to make unenforceable any current or future employment contract provisions that mandate arbitration of sexual harassment or assault claims brought by employees. The bill will also invalidate any existing forced arbitration clauses in ongoing sexual harassment or sexual assault cases. Employees may still decide to arbitrate such claims, but that decision lies squarely with them.
The legislative definition of sexual harassment in the bill covers anything that qualifies as sexual harassment under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII). Under Title VII, sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that includes the unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature that explicitly or implicitly affects the terms and conditions of continued employment or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.
The bill will have far-reaching implications for both employees and employers when signed into law. Should you have any questions concerning these new developments, please do not hesitate to contact our team of professionals.