Recently enacted legislation finally puts an end to forced arbitration over sexual harassment or assault, meaning these cases can — and will — make their way to the courts. It’s something that should be on the radar of benefit advisers who can help their clients lean into a caring culture that keeps employees out of harm’s way.
The original Federal Arbitration Act silenced victims, protected perpetrators and fed toxic cultures by blocking a victim’s ability to have their voice heard in court. Instead of bringing bad behavior into the light, companies all but erased it by controlling closed-door arbitrations and demanding confidentiality agreements. When sexual harassment was pervasive inside a company, victims had no means to openly name or confront the accused, nor the ability to point to past aggressions that could inform fair decisions. In a nutshell, forced arbitration pushed us all backwards by eroding trust and damaging workplace culture.
Thankfully, that’s changing.