Congress passed the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act of 2021 on February 10, 2022. This legislation was introduced in the wake of the #MeToo movement, and passed both houses with strong bipartisan support. The White House has issued a statement indicating that President Joseph Biden will sign the bill.
If signed into law, any person asserting a claim “alleging conduct constituting a sexual harassment dispute or sexual assault dispute” can elect to invalidate and render unenforceable any pre-dispute agreement to arbitrate or to waive participation in a joint or class action regarding such claims.
The law would apply “with respect to any dispute or claim that arises or accrues on or after the date of enactment of this Act,” meaning that employees could elect to be released from existing arbitration agreements and joint or class action waivers as they apply to any sexual harassment and sexual assault claims based on events occurring after the law goes into effect. The law is limited in scope in three important respects. First, it does not automatically invalidate existing arbitration agreements and joint or class action waivers. Second, it only limits the ability of a person bringing a claim to invalidate arbitration agreements and joint or class action waivers in sexual assault or sexual harassment disputes. Third, it does not prohibit any agreement to arbitrate or to waive joint or class action participation that the parties enter into after the dispute arises.
If you have any questions concerning the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act of 2021, please contact Warner Partners Tom Amon, Michael Brady, Amanda Fielder or a member of the firm’s Labor and Employment Practice Group or the Class Action Defense Practice Group.