Washington, Mar 3 (EFE).- United States President Joe Biden signed a bill into law on Thursday that will make it difficult for companies to internally silence claims of workplace sexual misconduct.
The law will end forced arbitration of sexual assault and harassment claims, ensuring accusers can bring cases to court.
“Forced arbitration shielded perpetrators and silenced survivors, enabled employers to sweep episodes of sexual assault and harassment under the rug, and kept survivors from knowing if others have experienced the same thing,” Biden said before signing the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act of 2021.
“Between half and three-quarters of all women report that they have faced some form of sexual harassment in the workplace, and too often they are denied a voice and a fair chance to do anything about it,” Biden said. “Today, we send a clear and strong message that we stand with you for safety, dignity and for justice.”
Former Fox News host and the bill’s longtime champion Gretchen Carlson, whose sexual harassment lawsuit against former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes led to his 2016 resignation and Fox settling for $20 million, spoke at the ceremony.
“I am here on behalf of the millions of American workers who up until today have been voiceless, silenced for simply having the courage to come forward to say something bad happened at work, and in return they got shunted into the secret chamber of arbitration,” Carlson said.
The signing of the bill into law is a triumph for the #MeToo movement against sexual misconduct, and a measure that Carlson had pushed for for years through an organization she co-founded called Lift Our Voices.
The measure will prevent the private sector from forcing its employees to participate in closed-door arbitration processes outside the judicial system and will give victims the power to decide if they want to go directly to the courts to resolve their complaints of sexual abuse and harassment.
“It should be their choice and nobody else’s choice,” Biden said.
Some 60 million American workers are bound by forced arbitration clauses in their contracts.
“You might have signed one without knowing it,” the president said. EFE