Attorneys representing companies or individual perpetrators of sexual harassment or sexual assault routinely rely on arbitration agreements to silence survivors. Arbitration supporters tout the process as providing an efficient, cost-effective alternative for parties to resolve disputed legal matters. In reality, employers force their employees to agree to arbitration in order to conceal their wrongdoing under a cloak of confidentiality, suppress damages, and prevent class action cases. That era has ended—at least with respect to sexual assault and sexual harassment claims.

The Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault & Sexual Harassment Act invalidates arbitration agreements in these types of cases. This will allow survivors to either have their day in actual court or settle their claims more in line with their real value.

If you believe you have suffered from sexual harassment or sexual assault be sure to contact the lawyers at Herrmann & Murphy.

Defense attorneys often expressly rely on arbitration agreements in settlement talks to argue that punitive damages—provided by law for these types of claims—will not be available since arbitrators are less likely than juries to award such damages; or that emotional distress damages will be low for the same reason. Likewise, defense counsel routinely rely on these agreements to demand that survivors remain silent about their abuse, even while they are pursuing justice for the sexual assault or harassment they suffered.

When survivors have the ability to file their cases in a public forum, wrongdoers have more of a motivation to settle before that happens instead of relying on arbitration’s private forum to continue to conceal the truth about them. Likewise, with the likelihood of higher damages, assailants will likely make larger settlement offers without subjecting survivors to the need to testify.

If you believe you have suffered from sexual harassment or sexual assault be sure to contact the lawyers at Herrmann & Murphy.

This law is long overdue and a welcome addition to the legal landscape. The overwhelming support for this law suggests that forced arbitration should be outlawed more generally. These same types of agreements are used to silence victims of race, gender, age, and disability discrimination. Arbitration is particularly troublesome in wage and hour disputes, where the employer will also use the agreement to prohibit class claims. Many wage disputes do not make sense to pursue alone and employers hope that these agreements will insulate them liability for wage theft.

If you think you’ve suffered from sexual harassment or sexual assault contact Herrmann & Murphy today.