House Judiciary Committee Advances the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act of 2021
Bipartisan, Bicameral Legislation Now Heads to the House Floor
Washington, November 17, 2021
Washington, D.C. - Today, the House Judiciary Committee advanced H.R. 4445, the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act of 2021, by a bipartisan vote of 27-14.
The legislation, introduced by Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (D-IL), empowers sexual assault and harassment survivors by restoring their access to justice and public accountability under the law. By ending forced arbitration in lawsuits involving these claims, survivors of sexual assault or sexual harassment are given the real choice of whether to go to court or to arbitrate their claim. The Senate Judiciary Committee passed the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act of 2021 by a voice vote on November 4th.
"Yesterday, four survivors of sexual harassment and sexual assault shared their stories with the Committee about their devastating experiences and the subsequent arbitration process they were forced to endure as a condition of their employment. Today, the Committee acted on those brave women’s stories and passed the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act of 2021, which ends the unjust—and frankly repulsive— system of forced arbitration for survivors of sexual assault or sexual harassment. This is an important step forward for survivors and for millions of more Americans who have been denied their day in court because of forced arbitration clauses. I am particularly proud that this legislation was passed with bipartisan support, sending a clear message to perpetrators that they will be held accountable. I look forward to getting this bill passed on the House floor and onto President Biden’s desk without delay," said Chairman Nadler.
“The #MeToo movement has chipped away at the culture of secrecy that protects predators and silences survivors -- but ending mandatory arbitration has the power to bring it all crashing down. Whether on a factory floor, in a shop on Main Street or in a corporate office, 60 million Americans have signed away their right to seek real justice and most don’t realize it until they try to get help. But survivors of sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace deserve to have their voices heard. If we want to end sexual harassment in the workplace, we need to take bold and meaningful action now. That’s why today, I’m proud that my legislation with Reps. Griffith, Jayapal and Cicilline has passed out of the House Judiciary Committee. Thank you to Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler for his leadership in bringing this bill before the committee today and getting us one step closer to ending forced arbitration for sexual harassment and assault survivors nationwide,” said Congresswoman Bustos.
The legislation is supported by a broad coalition of public-interest organizations, including the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence, National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, National Partnership for Women and Families, and the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network.
Yesterday, the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing entitled, "Silenced: How Forced Arbitration Keeps Victims of Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment in the Shadows." At the hearing, fours survivors of sexual assault and sexual harassment shared their harrowing experiences and the deep wounds they continue to carry with them to this day. As they explained, after enduring such horrific trauma at the hands of their perpetrators, they were forced to endure further trauma when they sought to hold their assailants accountable in court and found that their only recourse was a secretive arbitration process that was stacked against them.Eliza Dushku, Actor/Producer & Graduate Student