New Law Prohibiting the Mandatory Arbitration of Sexual Harassment and Assault Claims Goes Into Effect

On March 3, 2022, President Joe Biden signed the “Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act of 2021” (the Act) into law. Upon signing the bill, which had bipartisan Congressional support, President Biden proclaimed, “[w]hen it comes to sexual harassment and assault, forced arbitration shielded perpetrators, silenced survivors, enabled employers to sweep episodes of sexual assault harassment under the rug and it kept survivors from knowing if others have experienced the same thing in the same workplace, at the hands of the same person.”

The Act amends the Federal Arbitration Act to provide that, at the election of the person asserting a claim, no mandatory arbitration agreement “shall be valid or enforceable with respect to a case … [that] relates to [a] sexual assault dispute or [a] sexual harassment dispute.” A “sexual assault dispute” is defined as a dispute involving a “nonconsensual sexual act or sexual contact,” as such terms are defined in the federal sexual abuse criminal statute or any similar state law. A “sexual harassment dispute” is defined as “a dispute relating to conduct that is alleged to constitute sexual harassment under applicable Federal, Tribal or State law.”

For the full alert, visit the Faegre Drinker website.