Donovan joins call for end to arbitration in sexual harassment cases

Donovan joins call for end to arbitration in sexual harassment cases

Vermont's attorney general joined a group of top legal officials from 56 states and territories urging Congress to crack down on arbitration clauses regarding workplace sexual harassment. Grewal joins 55 other attorneys general from across the country in signing the letter.

The coalition also applauds Microsoft Corporation for recently announcing that it will discontinue arbitration requirements with respect to sexual harassment claims and for supporting legislation to ensure that victims of sexual harassment be given the right of access to our judicial system.

Florida's attorney general Pam Bondi and North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein led the coalition.

The letter, addressed to congressional leaders, including House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), explicitly addresses legislation that would eliminate mandatory arbitration agreements between employers and victims when sexual harassment claims are made.

Congress is now considering legislation to address the issue, according to the letter. Arbitration agreements result in behind-closed-door settlements that deny victims due process under the law. "That right should extend fully to persons who have been subjected to sexual harassment in the workplace".

"Ending mandatory arbitration of sexual harassment claims would help to put a stop to the culture of silence that protects perpetrators at the cost of their victims", the group wrote. Their last such letter came in 2008, when they wrote to address the funding cut that slashed 67 percent, or about $350 million, from the Edward Byrne Justice Assistance Grant Program that provides federal criminal justice funding to state, local and tribal jurisdictions.

The letter to Congress stated in relevant part that "Congress today has both opportunity and cause to champion the rights of victims of sexual harassment in the workplace by enacting legislation to free them from the injustice of forced arbitration and secrecy when it comes to seeking redress for egregious misconduct condemned by all concerned Americans".

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