House Passes Important Measure
Access To Courts For Survivors Of Sexual Assault And Harassment
Holding Perpetrators And Corporations Accountable
The constitutional right to a jury trial is provided by the Seventh Amendment; forced arbitration deprives aggrieved parties of that right. Corporations, employers and others use forced arbitration clauses to avoid juries and the judicial system. Forced arbitration forces disputes into private, secretive arbitration processes that hide the facts of a case from public knowledge and do not abide by judicial rules for discovery or allow determination of claims by judge or jury. Employers, corporations and others use arbitration clauses to force arbitration of important individual claims of all varieties including claims of sexual assault or harassment on the job. The U.S. House of Representatives, with significant bipartisan support, recently passed the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault & Sexual Harassment Act, H.R. 4445), which will void forced arbitration agreements in any contract if a sexual assault or harassment claim is brought. For employment contracts, more than 60 million Americans would be impacted. That estimate grows exponentially when considering other contracts and terms and conditions where forced arbitration clauses are typically found, such as in nursing homes, property leases, ride-share apps, movers, handyman services and more.
Ingrid M. Evans and Evans Law Firm, Inc. strongly endorse any legislation that restores Seventh Amendment rights and gives injured persons access to the courts for justice instead of being shunted off to the secretive processes of the private arbitration system.
Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault & Sexual Harassment Act
Every single House Democrat and a majority of Republicans recently voted in favor of the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault & Sexual Harassment Act (H.R. 4445) that will dramatically improve accountability for survivors of sexual assault and sexual harassment. The bill would allow survivors to hold their perpetrators and the corporations who enable them accountable in court. Congressman David N. Cicilline (D. RI-01), Chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law, had this to say about the bill on the House Floor:
The survivors of sexual assault and harassment want this, and we should listen to them.
H.R. 4445 will restore access to justice for victims of sexual assault or harassment who are currently locked out of the court system due to forced arbitration clauses.
These clauses are everywhere, they block survivors from making their stories known, having their day in court, and prevents them from holding their abusers accountable.
Some of the stories we heard during this hearing were horrific of the kind of abuse, and assaults, and demeaning behavior. And those predators knew that they were protected from being held accountable because there were forced arbitration clauses often accompanied with provisions that kept those proceedings private.
And so, this […] private system forces survivors into a process – this forced arbitration – that is not like a court system. There’s no discovery, there’s no judge or jury. There are no requirements that they follow laws passed by Congress or the states.
And when you, as I said, combine that with nondisclosure agreements, it silences the survivors of sexual harassment and assault – plain and simple.
This bill will end it.
Predators rely on that silence. As long as their actions are hidden, they are free to act with impunity and we heard evidence that’s in fact what they do over and over and over again.
This bill will end that.
Justice Groups Endorse Bill
The Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault & Sexual Harassment Act 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.
Ingrid M. Evans and the Evans Law Firm, Inc. can be reached at (415) 441-8669, or by email at email@example.com. Our toll-free number is 1-888-50EVANS (888-503-8267).