HOUSTON, Texas. Many employers require workers to sign arbitration clauses when they get hired. Signing these clauses is often required in order for the worker to get employed. According to USA Today, as many as 56% of American workers are bound by arbitration clauses. This means that as many as 60 million American workers may not be able to take their employers to court if sexual harassment occurs or if the company fails to handle a harassment issue in a proper or timely manner.
In recent months, many advocates for women and workplace equality have been taking a close look at how forced arbitration clauses silence women and prevent them from fighting back when they have faced sexual harassment on the job. Some forced arbitration clauses require victims to settle their cases in private. Reports indicate that Harvey Weinstein used forced arbitration clauses and nondisclosure clauses to silence women.
Representatives from both government parties have proposed legislation called the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Harassment Act. Under the new law, sexual harassment claims would not be covered under forced arbitration clauses. This means that workers who suffered workplace harassment would be able to take their claims to court. This creates public accountability, and protects workers’ right to a fair trial.
Critics of forced arbitration claim that the legal provision denies employees their constitutional rights to take their harasser to court. Others claim that it gives the harasser the protection of anonymity. Corporations often use forced arbitration clauses because it allows them to settle disputes more easily and privately, without having to run the risk of bad press.
Yet, even when forced arbitration clauses are in place, there are still ways to fight back. For example, if an arbitration clause prevents you from suing a company, you can still sue an individual for their actions against you.
Even when forced arbitration is not in place, victims of workplace sexual harassment face challenges when fighting back. According to QZ, the standards set by Title VII require the victim to prove a pattern of clear and persistent harassment. Furthermore, when women go to their workplace’s human resources department, human resources may be trained to protect the company and not the worker.
Under forced arbitration, it’s the worker against the company and the company often has the power. When workers can take their claims to court, they have public opinion on their side. Individuals can go public and fight company wrongdoing out in the open. It keeps everyone accountable.
So, what can you do to protect your rights? Check to see if you are bound by a forced arbitration clause. If you experience sexual harassment in the workplace, you should report the harassment to human resources and to management. However, in some cases, this can be complicated, especially if there is a conflict of interest between higher management or if higher management has a relationship with your harasser. This is why it may be wise to speak to a qualified sexual harassment employment lawyer in Houston, Texas, like Moore & Associates. Moore & Associates can help you navigate the complexities of reporting your harassment internally, and also help you understand your rights for either taking your case to court, or moving forward under a forced arbitration clause. Visit us at https://www.mooreandassociates.net/ to learn more.
Moore & Associates
440 Louisiana Street, Suite 675,
Houston, TX 77002