Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill has joined with the attorneys general of all 50 states and other U.S. territories in support of federal legislation ending forced arbitration after incidents of workplace sexual harassment.The National Association of Attorneys General sent the letter voicing its support for such legislation to Congressional leaders Monday.
In the letter, the state legal leaders said arbitration clauses are often included in the fine print of employment contracts and are enforced in a way that prevents victims of workplace sexual harassment from seeking legal redress in court.
“Access to the judicial system, whether federal or state, is a fundamental right of all Americans,” they wrote. “That right should extend fully to persons who have been subjected to sexual harassment in the workplace.”
In a statement Tuesday, Hill said the American justice system is built on the principle that everyone should get their day in court. “Mandating arbitration undermines this fundamental principle,” he said.
The AGs also criticized confidentiality requirements in arbitration clauses, writing such requirements created a “culture of silence” that stops victims from speaking out.
“Congress today has both opportunity and cause to champion the rights of victims of sexual harassment in the workplace by enacting legislation to free them from the injustice of forced arbitration and secrecy when it comes to seeking redress for egregious misconduct condemned by all concerned Americans,” the letter says.
The attorneys general ended their letter with praise for Microsoft Corporation, which recently announced plans to discontinue arbitration requirements in an effort to give its employees the opportunity to seek legal recourse if they are harassed. The letter urged Congress to follow suit.
“We are aware that the Senate and the House are considering legislation to address this issue,” the attorneys general wrote. “Whatever form the final version may take, we strongly support appropriately-tailored legislation to ensure that sexual harassment victims have a right to their day in court.”