Durbin, Colleagues Introduce Bipartisan Legislation To Allow Sexual Assault & Harassment Survivors To Seek Justice & Accountability

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, joined U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), along with U.S. Representatives Cheri Bustos (D-IL-17), Morgan Griffith (R-VA-9), and Pramila Jayapal (D-WA-7) to announce the bipartisan, bicameral Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault & Harassment Act to empower sexual assault and harassment survivors.

The legislation would stop perpetrators from being able to push survivors of sexual harassment and assault into the secretive, biased process of forced arbitration. This bill would invalidate forced arbitration clauses that prevent sexual assault and sexual harassment survivors from seeking justice and public accountability under the laws meant to protect them.

“It is time to end this practice that prevents survivors of sexual assault and harassment from seeking justice. I’m proud to join these bipartisan lawmakers to introduce this important legislation that will empower survivors and hold perpetrators accountable for their actions,” said Durbin.

“Predators rely on the shadows to hide and protect them and it’s past time we shine a light on the abuse and harassment,” Congresswoman Bustos said. “Whether on a factory floor, in a shop on any Main Street or in a corporate office, 60 million Americans have signed away their right to seek real justice and most don’t realize it until they try to get help. But survivors of sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace deserve to have their voices heard. If we want to end sexual harassment in the workplace, we need to take bold and meaningful action now.”

Forced arbitration clauses are buried in the fine print of everything from employment agreements and ubiquitous terms and conditions to everyday digital click-through “agreements.” For example, many patients who were sexually assaulted in a nursing home or women pervasively harassed at work are currently unable to tell their story in a public court of law because of forced arbitration.

This bipartisan, bicameral bill would void forced arbitration provisions as they apply to sexual assault and harassment survivors, allowing survivors to seek justice, discuss their cases publicly, and eliminate institutional protection for harassers. 

The Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault & Sexual Harassment Act is endorsed by the American Association for Justice (AAJ), Public Citizen, the National Women’s Law Center, and the National Partnership for Women and Families.