This op-ed was originally published by The Hill.
Recently, Congress passed the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act, which will block enforcement of arbitration requirements for workers alleging sexual harassment or assault. Arbitration is the process of handling disputes outside of the court system — forced arbitration prohibits workers from suing their employer altogether.
This is an important outcome for the #MeToo movement and has the potential to reach many workers and employment claims, depending on how broadly or narrowly it is interpreted.
In a fair and just country, corporations are held accountable in the courts if their irresponsible behavior harms people. However, like many policies, the communities most impacted by forced arbitration are historically marginalized groups. Indeed, forced arbitration has a disproportionate impact on low-income Americans and Black and brown women when they are the victims of discrimination. Their abuse goes beyond the general adverse impacts of forced arbitration, noted in a new report by the Center for Progressive Reform.
What is often overlooked is how this process impacts low-income individuals, people of color and women. This lack of information led us to publish the first report to examine the legal effects of forced arbitration on marginalized communities and vulnerable groups, like residents of nursing homes.