A landmark #MeToo bill to end forced arbitration in cases involving sexual harassment or assuault is now headed to President Biden’s desk, where he is expected to sign it into law.
The Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act was first introduced by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) in 2017, who re-introduced the bill last year along with Sen. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC). The House passed the legislation, sponsored by Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-IL), on a 335-97 vote earlier this week and the Senate on Thursday did the same on a voice vote.
Former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson, whose landmark sexual harassment lawsuit led to then-Fox News chief Roger Ailes’ ouster in 2016, was a key advocate for the landmark law as the co-founder (along with this reporter and Julie Roginsky, who also formerly worked at Fox News) of the non-profit group Lift Our Voices, which is dedicated to eradicating non-disclosure agreements and forced arbitration clauses that have been used to cover up toxic workplace issues.
“Someone told me after my lawsuit against Fox that something good would come of it and today exemplifies the massive good that this new law will bring to all women in the workplace,” Carlson told The Daily Beast on Thursday evening.
“Taking harassment and assault out of the secrecy of arbitration will heal workplaces and make them safer for generations to come,” she added.
“This bill is one of the most significant workplace reforms in the last 50 years and is a major step forward toward changing a system that uses secrecy to protect perpetrators and silence survivors,” Gillibrand said in a statement on Thursday.
“It will give survivors their day in court, allow them to discuss their cases publicly and end the days of institutional protection for harassers.”