Nadler, Bustos, Jayapal & Cicilline Applaud House Passage of H.R. 4445, the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act
Washington, February 7, 2022
Washington, D.C. - Today, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 4445, the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act of 2021, by a bipartisan vote of 335-97. This legislation will void forced arbitration agreements in any contract if a sexual assault or harassment claim is brought, providing survivors the freedom to decide what legal path works best for them.
“Last November, in one of the most powerful Judiciary Committee hearings I have taken part in, we heard from four survivors of sexual harassment and sexual assault about their devastating experiences and the subsequent arbitration process they were forced to endure as a condition of their employment. Immediately following the hearing, the Committee acted on those brave women's stories and passed the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act, which allows survivors to bring their stories out of the shadows and pursue justice in our courts. I am grateful that today, the full House of Representatives has also overwhelmingly passed this much-needed legislation, sending a clear message to perpetrators that they will be held accountable. I thank my colleagues, Representatives Bustos, Griffith, Jayapal, and Buck, for their leadership on this issue, and I urge the Senate to pass this bipartisan legislation without delay," said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler.
"We’ve heard a flood of stories of sexual assault and harassment that has gone unchecked for far too long. But little known legal agreements hidden in all sorts of places have continued to bar millions of Americans from speaking out or seeking justice. From employment paperwork and lease agreements to the terms and conditions for apps and services, the majority of Americans have unknowingly signed their rights away. Nullifying these ‘forced arbitration’ clauses for sexual assault and harassment claims will let survivors’ voices be heard. The legislation we passed on the House Floor today will do away with these predatory pitfalls – and I’m proud to say that it has widespread support among Democrats and Republicans and in the House and Senate. I want to thank the leaders who have championed this important legislation and negotiated in good faith to get us where we are today. Reps. Pramila Jayapal, Morgan Griffith, Ken Buck and David Cicilline, Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, Lindsay Graham and Dick Durbin and advocates like former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson have been instrumental to this bill passing the House," said Congresswoman Cheri Bustos.
“More than 60 million Americans are subjected to forced arbitration clauses in the workplace, preventing them from choosing how to seek justice for wrongful and abusive treatment. Survivors should have the opportunity to use their voices however they see fit. Today, the House of Representatives took an important step towards protecting workers and their wellbeing – and ending widespread, systemic abuse in workplaces across this country,” said Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal.
"Predators rely on forced arbitration and nondisclosure agreements to silence their victims, because as long as their actions are hidden, they are free to sexually assault and harass without consequences. Forced arbitration has been weaponized by sexual predators in the workplace for far too long. H.R. 4445, the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act, will finally stop this heinous practice once and for all and hold wrongdoers accountable," said Congressman David Cicilline, Chair of the House Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law.
The bill has been endorsed by the American Association for Justice (AAJ), Public Citizen, the National Women’s Law Center, the National Partnership for Women and Families, Futures Without Violence, Jewish Women International, Lift Our Voices, National Alliance to End Sexual Violence, National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, National Domestic Violence Hotline, National Network to End Domestic Violence, National Partnership for Women and Families, National Women’s Law Center, Public Citizen, RAINN, RALIANCE, and Sexual Violence Prevention Association, the Malouf Foundation, the Elizabeth Smart Foundation and the House LGBTQ Equality Caucus.
On November 16, 2021, the Committee held 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 explained that after enduring horrific trauma at the hands of their perpetrators, they were forced to endure further trauma when they found that their only recourse was a secretive arbitration process that was stacked against them.
On November 17, 2021, the Committee advanced H.R. 4445 by a bipartisan vote of 27-14. 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.