Trent Cotney, Partner, Adams & Reese, LLP
President Biden is expected to sign and approve a new bill prohibiting pre-dispute arbitration agreements for sexual harassment and sexual assault claims. On February 7, the House approved the bill. Although several states, such as New York and California, already have similar laws on the books, the bill would apply nationwide.
Flowing from the tide of litigation that ensued during the Me Too movement, the ban’s intent is to allow victims of sexual harassment or sexual assault to not be silenced through contractual mechanisms such as arbitration. It allows victims to speak publicly about their issues. The ban only applies to pre-dispute claims, meaning before a claim is filed in court. Therefore, a party alleging sexual harassment or sexual assault can file a claim in court or choose arbitration. If the matter is filed in court, then the employer can enforce arbitration. Post-dispute arbitration is allowed in almost all circumstances. Read more.