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All State AGs Ask for No Arbitration in Sex Harassment Claims

The #MeToo movement has prompted the attorney generals (AGs) from all 50 states and the District of Columbia to send a letter to Congress. In their unusual bipartisan effort, they ask that a law be passed barring the use of arbitration agreements in connection with claims of sexual harassment.

“We ask for your support and leadership in enacting needed legislation to protect the victims of sexual harassment in the workplace. Specifically, we seek to ensure these victims’ access to the courts, so that they may pursue justice and obtain appropriate relief free from the impediment of arbitration requirements.”

The AGs assert that sexual harassment cases are particularly ill-suited for the arbitration process. First, arbitrators may lack the experience essential to understanding the particular issues before making rulings. Additionally, the secrecy clauses almost always included in arbitration agreements serve to protect the harassers at the expense of the public interest in outing serial sexual harassers. The AGs hope to “put a stop to the culture of silence” that has surrounded these claims. Both congressional bodies are currently considering legislation that includes this goal. The letter does not take a position on any already suggested legislation, but rather reflects the AG’s support for any appropriate legislation on this issue