Please join me and two of my law partners, Rhonda Klein and Paul Oliver, this Friday, March 4 for a free Webinar in which we will discuss the implications of the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act of 2021.
On February 10, 2022, the U.S. Senate joined the House expanding the litigation rights of “Me-Too” harassment victims. The implementation of this legislation will directly impact the way that sexual harassment and sexual assault allegations in the workplace are resolved, how they can be addressed in employment agreements, and, initially, it may increase the number of harassment cases brought in court. Wimberly Lawson believes it is important for our clients to understand the importance and ultimate applications of this bipartisan legislation and how it would affect their individual roles and employers.
A rare bipartisan effort has brought us a new federal law that was enacted in response to the #MeToo movement. This new law will prohibit companies from forcing employees to use arbitration, rather than the courts, to resolve cases involving sexual harassment or sexual assault in the workplace.
Why do we need this new law? Many people have complained that forced arbitration tends to unfairly favor businesses and keep these types of claims out of the public eye. Businesses generally favor arbitration over jury trials for a number of reasons, including the cost, length of time to resolve claims, and less emotion influencing the result.
As of the effective date of this law, companies will be unable to enforce written arbitration agreements that require employees or former employees to resolve claims of workplace sexual harassment or sexual assault through the arbitration process. This will make these types of claims much more attractive to plaintiff’s lawyers because the monetary value of these cases, especially egregious ones, will increase substantially.
Pro Tip: Now is a good time for businesses to review their policies and procedures that prohibit harassment in the workplace. And when is the last time that you have done any harassment prevention training? It is not enough to talk to employees and managers about harassment at orientation and never bring it up again. Rather, your business should be taking regular affirmative steps to prevent workplace harassment.
Kathleen J. Jennings is an attorney licensed to practice law in Georgia and New York. She graduated from Cornell University, College of Arts & Sciences, with distinction and New York University School of Law. She is a principal in the Atlanta office of Wimberly, Lawson, Steckel, Schneider, & Stine, P.C. and defends employers in employment matters, such as sexual harassment, discrimination, Wage and Hour, OSHA, restrictive covenants, and other employment litigation and provides training and counseling to employers in employment matters. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright 2022 by Kathleen J. Jennings
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