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New law set to end forced arbitration for sexual harassment cases

On Behalf of | Mar 2, 2022 | Firm News

Illinois employers need to be aware of current laws and trends in how to address workplace challenges. When they arise, complications can not only negatively impact how the business is run, but it can hinder relationship employees and damage public perception. In recent years, greater attention has been paid to allegations of sexual harassment in the workplace. This largely stems from the #metoo movement. Employers are tasked with finding ways to prevent this. Once it has happened, it can be problematic to find suitable resolutions. One key factor was the requirement to settle the matter through forced arbitration. That is set to change and employers must be cognizant of how to move forward.

60 million workers potentially affected

The U.S. Senate recently passed a law that will eliminate forced arbitration for harassment and assault. At least 60 million workers were bound by this type of agreement. Known as Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act, the new law will give employees options as to where the case can be heard. For example, if the employee wants it in state or federal court, it will be possible. It took around four years for this law to be passed and it was done in bipartisan fashion.

Forced arbitration was often a sticking point for alleged victims to achieve a positive outcome. There was a belief that the arbitration process automatically tilted the case toward the defendant. It is easy to assert that employers were not being fair when cases were handled this way. Whether they were or not is largely irrelevant with the new law. Once this law goes into effect, there will be a marked difference in how companies operate with their contracts and dealing with complaints.

Businesses across the nation should understand this new law

When dealing with employer-employee matters, it is beneficial to have a plan in place to keep them from escalating. No business wants employees to feel as if they are mistreated and that their concerns are dismissed. Forced arbitration was an adversarial process that might have led to people who claimed to have been victimized thinking their concerns were not taken seriously. Since these cases will now be overseen differently, employers must understand how they should proceed with this type of employment litigation. Having professional guidance is a wise start.

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