WASHINGTON — This week, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (IL-17) joined Gretchen Carlson, journalist and founder of Lift Our Voices, activist Tanuja Gupta, a leading organizer of the Google Walkouts, and the Women’s Bar Association of the District of Columbia for a panel focused on her Ending Forced Arbitration for Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act.
“It’s been called one of the most significant pieces of labor legislation this century, and today, I was thrilled to join this outstanding panel to discuss the wide-ranging impact of this law,” said Congresswoman Bustos. “The Ending Forced Arbitration for Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act will impact generations to come – that’s why I’m working to make sure we can spread the word that this year, every American regained a constitutional right.
“I and so many others in the audience last night were in awe of and inspired by the actions and continued efforts of Congresswoman Bustos, Tanuja Gupta and Gretchen Carlson. Their ongoing fight to end the silencing individuals who have experienced sexual assault and harassment is tremendous. It is clear that both protecting those who have been subject to sexual assault or harassment with the end to forced arbitration and hopefully NDAs, as well as educating businesses on how to change the landscape so that ‘bad actors’ do not continue or are removed are the keys to addressing this persistent problem. To see such important legislation for women pass both houses of Congress with bipartisan support is such a feat in this political climate. We are hopeful that the movement continues and applaud the courage that these activists and members of Congress have to keep going,” said Candace Beck, President of the Women’s Bar of DC.
“Together, the Ending Forced Arbitration Act for Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act which became law in March, along with the Speak Out Act, are two of the most significant, positive changes to labor law in the last hundred years. It is my hope that through the Speak Out Act’s limiting of NDAs, negotiated with bipartisan consensus, we can protect as many survivors as possible from being forced into silence. Advocates and lawmakers alike have more work ahead on this issue, and we will continue to advocate for more measures that protect all workers and all survivors, “ said Gretchen Carlson, Co-founder of Lift Our Voices.
“This education campaign is the last mile of this law, because rights are only useful if people know they can assert them. I want every single survivor of sexual harassment and violence to know that regardless of pronoun, they have a right to pursue justice in court,” said Tanuja Gupta, who organized Googlers for Ending Forced Arbitration.
Signed into law earlier this year, the Ending Forced Arbitration for Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act voids forced arbitration agreements in any contract if a sexual assault or harassment claim is brought. For employment contracts, more than 60 million Americans would be impacted. That estimate grows exponentially when considering other contracts and terms and conditions where forced arbitration clauses are typically found, such as in nursing homes, property leases, ride-share apps, movers, handyman services and more.
By voiding forced arbitration clauses in the case of sexual assault and harassment, survivors are provided the freedom to decide what legal path works best for them – that can include bringing a claim in court, discussing their case publicly or seeking another kind of legal remedy. It will eliminate institutional protection for harassers and abusers and give survivors the chance to pursue justice.
This event was part of Congresswoman Bustos’ and Tanuja Gupta’s Silenced No More, an initiative focused on educating survivors, advocates and the American public about the impact of the new law.